Posts Tagged ‘Colquhoun’

Helensburgh: the early years: intro.

May 14, 2008

Helensburgh, on the north bank of the River Clyde, is today a prosperous residential town, a popular home for Glasgow commuters and famed for Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s The Hill House, built in 1904 for the publisher Walter Blackie, just one such Glasgow commuter. It is also now home to large numbers of naval personnel from HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane on the Gareloch. 

 

A comfortable, settled sort of place which you might think had been there for ever.  However a glance at an 18th century map shows nothing like Helensburgh – just a settlement, too small to be termed a village, called variously Malligs, Millrigs or Milligs, forming part of the parish of Rhu (or Row as it was then spelled.)  Where Helensburgh’s tree-lined streets and desirable houses now sit was then just scrubby grazing with a few simple cottages for farm workers and fisher-folk.

 

The area had traditionally been part of the estate of the Macaulays of Ardencaple, but the Chiefs of Macaulay fell on hard times and the Milligs lands were sold to Sir John Shaw of Greenock in 1700.  Shaw did little with the land and his heirs sold Milligs to Sir James Colquhoun of Luss in 1757.  At this time Colquhoun was actively buying land in Rhu to add to his extensive landholdings on Loch Lomondside.

 

The mid-eighteenth century was a great period of improvement in Scotland and landowners were taking more care to ensure that their land was properly cultivated.  Attention was being given to crop rotations and fertility, to enclosure and to the beginnings of scientific agriculture.

 

There was also, all across the nation, from the Pentland Firth to the Solway, a positive spate of new towns and villages being built by local landowners. These proprietors saw prospects of better income from feu-duties on houses, factories, shops and commercial premises than they did from rents of agricultural land.  The new towns would also help agriculture by providing local consumers for farm produce and could also perhaps absorb the rural workers displaced by the new, more scientific and less labour intensive patterns of agriculture.

 

 

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Battle of Glen Fruin: intro.

April 27, 2008

On 7th February 1603 a force of some four hundred men of Clan Gregor, Clan Cameron and other “brokin Hieland men” came down to Glen Fruin, in Dumbartonshire, to raid and to pillage. Glen Fruin lay in the lands of Colquhoun of Luss and there was a long history of enmity between the MacGregors and the Colquhouns, as indeed there was between many residents on the borders of the Highlands and the notoriously lawless Clan Gregor.

Glen Fruin today

Alexander Colquhoun of Luss, being made aware of the invasion of his lands by the MacGregors, under Alastair MacGregor of Glenstrae, and being armed with a commission from the King to act against the MacGregors gathered together a strong force from his lands and the nearby burgh of Dumbarton and confronted the raiders at the north end of Glen Fruin. The battle was swift and bloody and resulted in the rout of the Colquhouns. Clan battles were, sadly, not unknown in Scotland, even in the seventeenth century. Although the Battle of Glen Fruin was perhaps bloodier than many, its consequences for the victors were to be more profound than MacGregor of Glenstrae could have imagined when he brought his raiders into the quiet farmlands of the Lennox.

The MacGregors, a clan once possessed of extensive lands, had by the end of the sixteenth century become a by-word for lawlessness and violence. In 1593 commissions of justiciary were granted to Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll and Robert Galbraith of Culcreuch to pursue Clan Gregor and its adherents with fire and sword and on 17th July 1596 Alastair MacGregor of Glenstrae appeared “in maist humble manner” before King James VI and his Privy Council and acknowledged his offences and disobedience in the past and bound himself as chief of the clan to keep good rule in the country and to be answerable to the King and to justice.

To ensure MacGregor kept his word the King gave the Earl of Argyll a commission of lieutenancy over Clan Gregor. In effect this meant that the MacGregors would be answerable to Argyll, the greatest and most powerful landowner in the Southern Highlands, for their behaviour and Argyll would be answerable to the King for their conduct.

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