CREATION OF THE BARONETCY
Archibald's eldest son, also Archibald, 11th of Duntreath, who was born in 1717, succeeded him in 1768. By the time of his inheritance he was Member of Parliament for the county of Dumbarton, to which seat he was elected in 1761, 1768, and 1774. In 1780 he was "chosen for the Ayr and Irvine Boroughs" but was again Member for Dumbartonshire in 1784 and 1790, and continued to hold this office until he retired from Parliament in 1799. A staunch Tory supporter, he upheld Lord North's government during the American War of Independence, and due to his public services, he was created a Baronet of the United Kingdom on the 3rd May 1774.
The fact of prolongued absence was probably the major reason for his decision to sell Redhall and what is described as "the remains of the property in Ireland. Mr James Seaton Reid, author of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, testified that "the family were well regarded and their departure in 1787, when the estate was sold, was considered a public loss". He bought the Kilsyth Estate in 1783 and thus, by a strange irony, reversed the situation of 1609. Then, as the Edmonstones left for Ireland, Sir William Livingston became the mortagee of Duntreath. His descendant was raised to the peerage as Viscount Kilsyth.
The 3rd Viscount, before his inheritance, was involved in a macabre incident which Sir Archibald, the 3rd Bt., relates. Livingston was infatuated with the wife of Viscount Claverhouse, "Bonnie Dundee", who was killed following the battle of Killiecrankie by a shot fired from Urrard House. Dundee's mother, convinced that Livingston was the murderer, sent him, on new year's morning, a white night cap, a pair of white gloves and a rope, and she cursed his marriage to her daughter-in-law. Subsequently being Jacobites they went to live in Holland where the turf roof of the house fell in. Livingston himself escaped but his wife and her son were both killed. Following this tragedy Kilsyth's lands in Scotland were forfeited after the Jacobite rising of 1715.
Kilsyth Estate was then bought by the York Buildings Company (a fraudulent enterprise which bought up Jacobite Estates) and was subsequently sold to Daniel Campbell of Shawfield, owner of the island of Islay. Now returning from Ireland, Sir Archibald acquired the property which the Livingstons had been forced to sell. The sum which he paid for the East and West Baronies of Kilsyth, including the lands of Bancloich, in the parish of Campsie, was about £41,000.
The Livingston's castle of Colzium had been demolished in 1703, and Sir Archibald built what his grandson described as "a modern house" close to the earlier site. Duntreath was by then partly ruined and Colzium, for the next eighty years, became the family home. The Colzium estate was broken up c.1920 and the house was sold by Sir Archibald Edmonstone, the 5th Bt. to Mr William Lennox Mackie in 1930. By then nearly derelict it was handed over by him to the Kilsyth Burgh Council in 1937.
Despite the fact that he did not live there Sir Archibald did make improvements to Duntreath estate. Most significantly he built "The Galloway Dyke", a kind of wall so called from being first introduced in that county, so that animals driven onto the higher ground in the summer could be kept off the cropping lands below.
Sir Archibald, the 1st Bt., married firstly, Susanna Mary, daughter of Roger Harene, a French gentleman who had settled in England around 1720. They had five sons and three daughters. Secondly he married Hester, daughter of Sir John Heathcoate, who died without children in 1797. Sir Archibald himself, having lived to be eighty nine, died in his house in Argyll Street in London in July 1807.
Sir Archibald Edmonstone. 1st Bart.
Campbell, one of Sir Archibald's two brothers, "sometime Lt Governor of Dumbarton Castle" also had a large family. He married Marianne, daughter of William Anderson of Glasgow, with by he had twelve children.
Sir Archibald's five sons all had distinguished careers.
Archibald, the eldest, born in 1754, after a military education on the Continent became a Lieutenant in the First Regiment of Footguards. He was A.D.C. to General Riedesel (Commander of the German Division of the army under General Burgoyne) in the campaign in the American War of Independence, which ended with the surrender at Saratoga in 1777. Returning he died of consumption in 1780 aged only twenty five.
His fifth son Neil Benjamin (1765-1841) having obtained a writership in the East India Company's Civil Service reached India in 1783. Becoming private secretary to Lord Mornington, better known as Lord Wellesley, who was appointed governor-general in 1798, he translated documents found in Tippoo Sultan's palace which justified the English attack upon him. Described by Sir John Kaye as "one of the most valuable officials and far seeing statesmen which the Indian Civil Service has ever produced" he was A.D.C to both Lord Cornwallis and Lord Minto, in their terms as Governor-General. In 1809 he was made chief secretary to the government and in 1812 became a member of the supreme council at Calcutta. In 1820, having returned to England, he was elected a director of the East India Company in which capacity he remained until his death in 1841.
Neil Benjamin's second son, of the same name, born in 1813, followed him into the Indian Civil Service. As private secretary to Lord Canning he became extremely influential during the Indian Mutiny. Made Lieutenant-Governor of the north-western provinces in 1859, he successfully restored the efficiency of the administration. In 1863, on his return from India, he was created a K.C.B. He died in 1864.
Sir Archibald, whose two eldest sons had predeceased him, was succeeded by his third son Charles.
Sir Charles Edmonstone, 12th of Duntreath and 2nd Baronet, was born in 1764. He was educated at Eton and subsequently at Christ Church Oxford. Having been called to the Bar, he was one of the six clerks in Chancery until the time of his father's death.
In 1806 he was elected Member for the county of Dumbarton, but he lost his seat in the general election of the following year. In 1812 he became Member for Stirlingshire and held the seat until his death. A Tory like his father, he supported Lord Liverpool's government during the later part of the Napoleonic Wars.
Doctor Patrick Graham, minister of Aberfoyle, in his report on Stirlingshire (Edinburgh 1812) praises Sir Charles for "his new farm houses, for his farms enlarged in a judicious style... (and for) the extensive plantations he made on Duntreath estate in 1807".
Sir Charles married firstly, Emma, daughter of Richard Wilbraham Bootle of Rode Hall, Cheshire, by whom he had a son and a daughter. He married secondly Louisa, daughter of Lord Hotham, by whom he had four sons and two daughters. He died in 1851, apparently from a stroke, aged fifty eight.
Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Bt., 13th of Duntreath, was born at 32 Great Russell Street Bloomsbury, London, on 12 March 1795. He went to Eton in 1808 and to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1812. He graduated B.A. on 29 Nov 1815. In 1819 he went to Egypt, where he visited and explored two of the oases in the great desert, of which he published an account. His published works, numbering eleven in all, included tracts on religion as well as the history of his family.
Following his succession, on 1 April 1821, he contested his father's former constituency of Stirlingshire, but failed to be elected to parliament.
The great work of his life was the restoration of the old castle of Duntreath, by now in a very ruinous state. Tradition has it that, while the family were still in Ireland, the factor, told to re-roof a farm house, had taken the slates from the castle, which had then been left to deteriorate.
In 1857 the architects Messers. Charles Wilson and D.Thomson, of Glasgow drew up the plans for the intended rebuilding of the castle. The following description taken from the R.C.A.H.M.S. Vol 1. Stirlingshire. Pub 1963. P 260. proves the extent of the work.
"These restorations began with the erection of a new SW range on the site of the old one, but eventually most of the old work, including the gatehouse and kitchen range, was pulled down to make way for a vast scheme of reconstruction. This was evidently pursued until the death of Sir Archibald in 1871, and while much of the old work was inevitably lost, the revised baronial style of the new buildings, and the retention of the basic courtyard plan, did nevertheless preserve some of the character possessed by the old castle. The gatehouse was...a reproduction of the original, and a new outer gatehouse, erected some 50 yds to the NW (now the chapel) was perhaps likewise intended to preserve another integral part of the old plan."
In addition to his work on the castle Sir Archibald built the Stable Block and the West Lodge. Both were constructed of red sandstone from the quarry above the "water track" on the Lettre Farm.
Strathblane Church was altered just before his death, the work being planned and carried out solely by himself. In October 1844 a gravestone in the centre passage of the church was removed in the presence of three witnesses who included Mr James Pearson, the minister, and Mr James MacLaren, the Factor of Duntreath, it bore the inscription "Here lyes in the same grave with Mary Countess of Angus, sister to King James I of Scotland from whom he is lineally descended, Archibald Edmonstone Esq., of Duntreath in this kingdom, and of Redhall in Ireland, who died in the year 1689 aged about 51 years". The bones of both were discovered and "the remains were carefully redeposited and the stone replaced".
An ancient inhabitant then testified that "the stone had remained in the same position that it did in the old church, so there can be no reason for doubting that the remains found were those of the Princess Mary of Scotland and her descendant Mr Edmonstone".
Sir Archibald married his first cousin Emma, daughter of Randle Wilbraham, of Rode Hall Cheshire, by whom he had three daughters all of whom died in infancy. He died in 1871.
He was succeeded by his half-brother, Admiral Sir William Edmonstone, 4th Bt, 14th of Duntreath, CB.DL., Member of Parliament for the County of Stirling from 1874 to 1880, and A.D.C. to Queen Victoria.
Sir William, who was born on 29th January 1810, entered the Royal Navy at a very early age. When a midshipman on board the frigate "Sybelle", during an attack on pirates near Candia, he was dangerously wounded in the face loosing part of his lower jaw. He was constantly on active service and it was on his return from the West Coast of Africa, where he served as a commodore, that he was made a Companion of the Bath and Naval Aide-de-Camp to the Queen.
He married Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Lt Colonel C.M.G.Parsons, who was British Resident on the island of Zante, at a time when the Ionian islands were a British Protectorate. A romantic story is told of how, as a young Naval lieutenant, he first saw her running with her sisters through the sand dunes. Less attractively she is said to have played marbles with sheep's eyes found in a stream, washed down from the local slaughter house.
Perhaps thanks in part to her upbringing she proved to be a stalwart lady in supporting her husband's careeer. They lived at Devonport in the eighteen eighties and in April 1866 he was transferred to the Woolwich Dockyard where he held the rank of "Captain (Commander 2nd Class)." He was promoted Rear-Admiral on 3 July, 1869, probably on the day previous to, or even on the day itself that he retired, this then being common practice. Sir William, on returning to Duntreath devoted himself to the estate. Riding out almost daily on his pony Molly to supervise all that was in hand, he frequently took shelter during rainstorms below the sycamore that stands above the roadside almost opposite to the entrance of the Baptiston Farm.
Mary Elizabeth and Sir William in all had eleven children, a further proof of her tenacity. Of their nine daughters, the eldest Mary Emma Frances (1842-1847) died when she was five. Their first son, called Archibald, died in infancy but their second son, of the same name, thankfully survived.
Sir Willliam died in 1888 and was succeeded by his son Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 15th of Duntreath and 5th Bt.C.V.O. D.L., Groom in Waiting to H.M. King Edward VII 1907-10. He accompanied the King on his state visit to Leningrad in 1908.
Educated privately and at Oxford, Sir Archibald married Ida, daughter of George Stewart Forbes of Newe, Bt. She was a Woman of the Bedchamber to H.R.H. Princess Christian. His youngest sister Alice, who married the Hon. George Keppel, has her place in history as the confidante of King Edward VII. Largely to accommodate the royal entourage Sir Archibald made what the R.C.H.A.M.S. describe as "heterogeneous additions" to Duntreath Castle. The King visited Duntreath when still the Prince of Wales and a hundred people on that occasion are said to have slept in the castle.
The architects employed for this further rebuilding were Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, the latter of whom being no relation to the Charles Wilson of the plans of 1857.
A third floor, which contained the nurseries was added to the south range. The east block was renovated with a square tower of four storeys being added on either side. Each floor of the SE. tower contained two bedrooms and a bathroom, The huge baths, a great novelty at the time, were surrounded by pipes, from which showers, sprays and jets of water were produced. The NE tower also contained bedrooms, designed for the large staff needed to run the house at that time.
The two towers were connected on the second floor by a gallery which ran above the arch on the east side of the courtyard surmounting the main entrance below. A wide stair descended from the gallery into a long low hall.
A door from the landing at the top of the stair gave into the dining room, thought to have been previously the chapel. Below in the ancient foundations, were the butler's pantry, servants hall, still room and kitchens.
Sir Archibald, helped by his sister Alice, also laid out the garden much in the same form as it is today. A large walled garden with green-houses, above the house to the north, was abandoned in the 1950s.
Sir Archibald had three sons. The eldest William was killed in the battle of the Somme in 1916. Sir Archibald himself died in April 1954 and was succeeded by his second son Archibald Charles.
Sir Archibald, 16th of Duntreath and 6th Bt., who was always known as Charlie, was educated at Wellington and the R.M.C. A lieutenant in the 9th Lancers, he served during the First World War. He then became A.D.C. to The Marquess of Willingdon, Governor of Madras.
Renowned as an outstanding horseman, he was Joint Master of the Fernie Hunt from 1928-34. The family at that time lived during the winter months at Highfield House, Husbands Bosworth, near Market Harborough. Also an amateur jockey, he owned several race horses, and with his mare Ocean Wave, he won the "Race for Amateur Riders" at the Western Meeting at Ayr in 1935.
At Duntreath he planted many of the woods, some designed as pheasant coverts, which are features of the present day.
He married Gwendolyn Mary, daughter of Marshall Field II of Chicago, in 1923. His father Sir Archibald, then made over the estate of Duntreath to him. Surviving his father a bare two months, he died in June 1954.
He was succeeded by his only surviving son, Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 17th of Duntreath, 7th Bt. Educated at Stowe, he held a National Service commission in the Scots Greys.
On inheriting Duntreath at the age of only twenty two, he found himself faced by the problems of the post war age. Costs of maintenance were escalating, heating was enormously expensive, and a house of such a size was near impossible to run. Therefore with great reluctance he decided to reduce it to its present size, the work of alteration finishing in 1958.
In 1957, he married Jane, daughter of Major-General Colville, and by this marriage has two sons and a daughter. He married secondly, in 1969, Juliet (Julie) daughter of Major-General Deakin, and by this marriage has a son and a daughter.
Together with Julie he has altered and restored the garden. On the south side of the house they have made a lake. Also they have built a flight of steps from the terrace down to the lawn. On the west side of the house walls have been constructed to support the banks of the sunken rose garden, designed round a small pond, with a fountain playing in its centre. Restoration of the water garden, a series of ponds made by damming a burn, which was laid out by his grandfather and great aunt, has been recently completed.
The Edmonstones are extremely kind in allowing the house and the gardens to be open on behalf of charities. Thus, after over five and a half centuries, the fortress built for protection, retains an important role in the life of the Blane Valley.