The Stirling of Keir an Overview
Originally published September 19, 2000 – Stirlings of Keir — An Overview Keir Manor 19 Sep 2000 – Stirling, Scotland – The Stirlings of Keir are one of the oldest and most historic families in the Stirling, Scotland Area. For the next month Clan Stirling Online will highlight the Keir Stirlings with twice-weekly articles, updates and news of this large branch of the Stirling Family.




The Stirlings of Keir track their ancestry back to some of the earliest progenitors of the surname Stirling, and have had news written about them since the 15th century. A great deal of this information will be added to the CSO website in installments. The first installment will be posted later today, with others coming every few days there after. It has been a difficult task to try an organize the material because of it’s diverse nature and tremendous size. We have several file cabinets of information on this branch of the family alone. To try and make in more manageable and in an attempt to make it easier for all to see and understand we are going to present the information in a Timeline orientation after starting with a overview of the family and the estate.

After the overview, we’ll start with the First Stirling Laird of Keir, Lukas, who created the barony of Keir after purchasing half of the estate between 1395 and 1414 from Laird George Leysly (Leslie) of Lewyn. Lukas traded lands in Fife for the lands of Keir. There lands were in the Stirling Family until the late 1970’s – a period of over 570 years. After Lukas Strivelyng as his name was spelled at that time, we’ll focus on his son Sir William De Striveline (another spelling) of Ratherne and Keir, Knight. and move into the 15th Century. It is Lukas’s son William who purchased the second half of the Keir estate in 1455. This series is one of the largest research projects undertaken so far at Clan Stirling online. We look forward to your comments and additional information you might have on this important branch of our large family.

Through this information you’ll be able to see how the Early Stirling family organized, and how the many cadets and branches of the family tie together. You will see Scottish history at it’s best, and at times it’s worst. You will see how land was bought, sold, traded and at times killed for. You will also see the impact this group named Stirling had in politics and history, for the Stirlings had many responsibilities in the kingdom, from overseeing the Herring Fishing in the 17th Century, to guarding King James V when a young child after his father James IV died.

It is our hope to help bring the Stirling family together more closely, brother and sister, Father and Son, and to give history of our ancestors, not elevate to the Keir Stirlings over other branches of the family. In coming months we’ll focus on the other branches of the Family, Cadder, Craigbernard, Glorat, Law, Kippendavie, Ardoch, and many others. It will be easier for all to see how these branches relate to one of the largest segments. An additional goal is to help as many of you as possible find the links and relationships to your American, Australian, New Zealand, South America branches of the family. Simply – there is a tremendous amount of information on this branch of the family. For those of you that are descendants of James Stirling of Cornwall, and William Stirling of Baldernock, this information will prove particularly useful, as these branches of the family were found to be descendant lines of the Stirlings of Keir in February 2000. In fact Lukas Strivelyng is the 10th Great-grandfather of James Sterling of Cornwall, Connecticut.

The 1st Laird of Keir
Originally posted 20 Sept. 2000 – Stirling, Scotland – The Word “Keir” is described as “a chain of rude forts, that run along the north face of the Strath or Valley of Monteath.” These “forts” have been in ruin for many centuries. The Stirling Family of Keir have used this name since 1448 when Lukas of Strivelyng, Ratherne, Boquhaumbry purchased the lands at the beginning of the 15th Century.




In the Statistical Account for LeCropt Parish in 1796 the Reverend Dr. Robertson describes the estate of Keir like this – “These (Keir) forts are at present in ruins, and are discernible to strangers only by knolls of green surface covering a great heap of loose stones; but well known to the inhabitants of the country, who carry away the stones for building enclosures and houses. One of these forts was situated at the place of Keir. There are also Keirs at Achinsalt, at Borland, at Balinackader, at Tar, and in many other places of that direction, all similar to one another in respect of situation, construction, prospect and materials; which is strong presumption at least, in not a clear proof, that their use was the same.” (Statistical Account of LeCropt Parish, 1796.

Unlike you and I who built forts out of sticks and trees when a child, the Keir Estate was just a “wee” bit larger. The name Keir is not unique to this Branch of the Stirling Family – except that for 570 plus years the Stirlings of Keir owned the land in this part of Scotland.

Today we will overview The Keir line, giving a little information about each segment of this long line of Stirling family members. In coming days we’ll explore each person in more detail and have more information about the Keir Estate, it’s current situation, and photos, prints and other artwork of the lands. If you have information about the Keir Stirlings, please feel free to contribute, comment and ask questions.

The Rise of the Stirling Family prior to the purchase of Keir will be covered in the next installment, when we look into the life, times and ancestry of Lukas of Strivelyng, the first Laird of Keir. From Lukas The Keir estate, which is just west of Bridge of Allan, and Southwest of Dunblane near the M9 highway, has been passed down from Family member to family member until it was sold in the late 1970’s to His Excellency Sayed Mohammed Mahdi Al-Tajir, who until 1981 was a principal advisor to Sheik Rashid, the Ruler of the Country of Dubai in the Middle East. Mahdi Tajir is reputed to be one of the richest men in the world, his rise to fortune began in the 1960’s when oil was discovered in commercial properties in Dubai. It was Mahdi Tajir who negotiated the contracts with the oil companies, and handled all principal contracts in Dubai for over 20 years.

The Stirlings of Keir – The First Laird of Keir – Lukas of Strivelyng Seal of Lukas de Strivelyn(Seal of Lukas de Strivelyng, First of Keir, 1448)

Lukas of Strivelyng, son of William, acquired the half the lands of Keir between 1395 and 1415. We’ll discuss this first Laird of Keir in detail in the next segment.

Sir William de Strivelyng of Ratherne – Son of Lukas

It was Lukas’s son William who began the real rise of this branch of the Stirling family. He added to the lands of Keir the area known as Haldane, then acquired from Lady Janet Kinross of Kippencross the lands of Lubnoch. He also purchased or got Charters and Title to the lands of Schanraw, Garnotore and Lytel and Mikle Kinibuck from Alexander de Kinbuck in 1468, and later still the lands of Glassingall.

In 1996 during a visit to Stirling I asked several people how large the lands of Stirling of Keir were. At the time I was in a car traveling from Stirling to Edinburgh to visit the genealogical library near the Royal Mile and Edinburgh castle. We were a little over 20 miles from Stirling at that point, and the driver calmly pointed out the window to the south of the freeway, and said “Well Lad, the lands you see out there are Keir Lands.” In total there have been various estimates, but a conservative guess is in excess of 500,000 acres of land. We’ll get into more detail about the Keir lands when we talk about their various neighbors to the North, South, East and West in a later installment.

William was married to a powerfully connected member of Scottish Nobility, Majorie Cunninghame. He died in 1471 and was succeeded by his eldest son, also named William.

Sir William Striveling of Kere, Knight – Supporter of King James IV

Seal of Sir William Striveling of Kere
Seal of William Striveling of Kere – 1492

William had the Keir estate erected into a barony in 1473. In 1488 he sided with Prince James (King James IV) against his father King James III. David M. Stirling, a noted Stirling genealogist in Dunipace, Scotland described the situation at that time in this manner – “The Keir was burnt on James III’s orders while he was still alive. This would account for the hostility William Stirling showed towards King James III and why he, with Hugh Borthwick, Shaw of Sauchie and Gray of Kyneff chose to stab the King to death.”

Mr. Stirling continues – “Go to page 23 (in the book “The Stirlings of Keir”) and you will find an account of a charter passed by the Great Seal narrating that the old writs and evidents (the former Estate Charters) pertaining to the lands of Keir had been burned with the Place and Tower of Kere on the orders of James III, whilst last at Stirling. As far as I am aware, a butchered King would be unable to speak and issue orders so it follows that the Place and Tower of Keir, and the charters were burned before the Battle of Sauchieburn. James Shaw of Sauchie and Patrick Gray of Kynef were close friends and allies of William Stirling of Keir, who was knighted by James IV, shortly after his accession to the throne, and when a new Charter of Barony erection was granted. Hugh Borthwick (his real name was Bean) was an apostate monk, who according to James Grant, Scottish Historian, was rewarded by the grant of an annual rent from a tenement in Stirling for his part in the deed.”

Many thanks to David for this additional information.

All of Sir William’s Charters and family papers were burned in the fire, leaving a black hole for researchers to struggle with later.

When the prince gained the throne in 1489 as James IV, he knighted William, granted him new titles and charters and gave him 1,000 pounds – a very large fortune at the time “for the bying of his place.” With this money William began building the nucleus of the present Keir House. William died in 1503, and was succeeded by his son John.

Sir John Stirling of Keir, Knight

Seal of Sir John Stirling, 4th of Keir

Seal of Sir John Stirling, Fourth of Keir 1502

John, like his father was active in political affairs. He took the side of James IV’s widow against some of the nobility that had risen up against her and her son the future King James V. In 1526 John was indicted for treason, and his lands were forfeited to the brother of the Earl of Angus. There were later restored.

Between 1527 and 1535 Sir John added more than 30 properties to his estates, including Kippendavie which is still under Stirling Family guidance and control to this day. He also added the lands of Blackford, which established the huge estate and sent the lands past the town of Dunblane and beyond Blackford.

Perhaps Sir John’s methods of growth were somewhat suspect – In 1539 he was killed at Stirling Bridge in revenge for his assassination of Buchanan of Leny and for having stripped Buchanan’s daughters of their inheritance. Thus ended one of the most controversial and colorful periods of this families history. His Son James succeeded him. We’ll spend more time looking into Sir John’s methods and manners. Some say he was a tyrant, murderer and scoundrel, others say he is merely an example of a large land owner during a time when lawlessness and greed ruled the countryside.

We’ll have more on Sir John in a later installment.

Sir James Stirling of Keir

Seal of Sir James Stirling 5th of Keir
Seal of Sir James Stirling 1579
“Jacobi Strivelin – Militus de Keir”
translation: “James Stirling – Knight of Keir”

In 1534 Sir James married the heiress of Cadder Janet Stirling. Books and refutations to those books have been written about this event in Stirling Family and Scottish History, as Janet Stirling was the heir of the Cadder line of the Stirling Family, an area situated a little south and west towards Glasgow from Keir. This was not a love match – some say it was Sir John’s doing, marrying his son to gain control of the Cadder lands. We’ll spend more time on this subject later.

At the end of the day Sir James or Sir John had the marriage annulled and their son John Stirling of Bankeir declared illegitimate. Janet had fallen in love with a tailor and signed away her birthright and lands to Sir James.

In 1542 James married Jean Chisholm, the illegitimate daughter of the Bishop of Dunblane, William Chisholm. He was also known as “The Robber Bishop of Dunblane.” Sir James acquired much more land from William Chisholm when the old Cathedral lands were sold or given away at the Reformation. On 15 September 1579 Sir James disponed the barony of Keir to his son Archibald. This charter was approved by King James VI. on the following day.

Sir Archibald Stirling of Keir and Cawder, Knight

In 1594 Archibald gave his 4th son, also named Archibald the estate of Kippendavie to begin the line of Stirlings of Kippendavie. It is interesting to note that during this time period this area was considered part of the Highlands, for in 1587 the Lairds of Keir and Kippenross were included in the list of Highland Landlords who where “broken Men”, IE where outlaws presently dwell. So at least during this time in history, the Stirlings of Keir were thought to be part of the Highland branches in Scotland.

In 1601 Sir Archibald was commissioned by King James VI “Admiral Depute of the West Seas and Lochs, at the float and tak (take) of the herring in the year 1601”

In 1593 Archibald’s son and then Heir James, was killed in a fight in Dunblane with William Sinclair over who owned the lands of Auchinbie, which is now part of the lands of Kippendavie. Later in revenge Sinclair and his three sons were killed in Bridge of Allan and the Stirlings were confirmed in ownership.

Sir Archibald died 17 May 1630 and was succeeded by his grandson, the only Surviving Son of –

Sir James Stirling, Friar of Keir, Knight son of Sir Archibald Stirling of Keir and Cawder Knight (Did not inherit Keir, his son did)

James was educated at the University of Glasgow. He was knighted sometime after 30th April 1607. He was married to Anna, the eldest daughter of Sir George Home of Wedderburn. In 1606 as part of his marriage contact to Anna his father Archibald settled the lands of Keir and Cadder on him, and the heir-males of his marriage.

James predeceased his father before 7 June 1614, so the lands passed on to his only surviving son George upon the death of Sir Archibald Stirling in 1630

Sir George Stirling of Keir and Cawder, Knight

(Sir George Stirling – 1638)

George Stirling was educated at the University of Glasgow and matriculated in the spring of 1630 “G. Sterling primogenitus D. de Keir.” (List of Incorporated members of Glasgow University.) He was knighted at Holyrood House in Edinburgh on 2nd June 1632 The Lord Lyon records office has the date 1662, but this appear to be an error.

He married four times – First to Dame Margaret Ross, daughter of Lord James Ross & Dame Margaret Scot. The young Mrs. George Stirling tragically died after giving birth to a daughter also named Margaret at the tender age of seventeen. The child died less than three months after her mother.

Next Sir George married Margaret Napier the daughter of Archibald First Lord Napier by Margaret Graham, the sister of the great Marquis of Montrose in 1637.

He married thirdly Anna Nicolson the second daughter of Sir Thomas Nicolson of Carnock in 1654.

Finally in 1666, Sir George married for the fourth time to Lady Margaret Livingston, the eldest daughter of Alexander Livingston, the 2nd Earl of Linlithgow & Lady Mary Douglas. Mary’s father was the 10th Earl of Douglas, named William. George died less than a year later in June 1667, after which Lady Margaret Livingston-Stirling married George’s cousin-once removed, Sir John Stirling of Keir

So the direct line of descent of the Stirlings of Keir ended with Sir George who had only a daughter Margaret by his first marriage. She died as an infant on 11 May 1633.

Sir George was succeeded by his Cousin Sir Archibald Stirling, Knight, Lord Garden

See the Stirlings of Keir

Sir Archibald of Garden was educated at the University of Glasgow, where he graduated in the spring of 1643. He studied Law, and entered early into public life. He traveled to France from October 1643 till the end of 1644 and his account books are preserved in the archives at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

Archibald was very active in Scotland’s affairs during his lifetime. He was Lord of the Articles in 1661 and 1663. In 1661 he was nominated one of the Senators of the College of Justice (Acts of Parliament vii, 124) when he assumed the title of Lord Garden (ibid.).

He married Elizabeth Murray, the daughter of Sir Patrick Murray of Elibank, Knight, and Dame Elizabeth Dundas in 1637. He later married Mause Murray, the daughter of Sir James Murray of Kilbaberton and Dame Katherine Weir, then Lady Elibank in 1646.

Archibald enjoyed the estate of Keir only a very short 9 months, as he died in April 1668. He was succeeded by his son John born at Ochiltrie on 13 April 1638 by his first marriage to Elizabeth Murray.

Sir John Stirling of Keir & Cawder, Knight

There is a great deal of information about Sir John and his sons. Of particular interest to Clan Stirling Online will be his son William of Northside whose line of the family continues today through James Sterling of Cornwall Connecticut, and Sir James Stirling of Keir, who married Marion Stuart, had 21 children and actively sought to restore the Stuarts to the throne.

Sir John was head of Keir from 1668 until his death in 1684. He was followed by his second son John.

Sir John Stirling of Keir & Cawder

John was born on 26 October 1677. He inherited the lands of Keir at the tender age of “eight years and five months or thereby” He died in October 1693 at the age of fifteen, and was buried on the 20th of October 1693 in the family aisle at the Dunblane Cathedral. He was succeeded by his younger brother, James.

Sir James Stirling of Keir & Cawder- The Jacobite Period

Sir James was born on 1st November 1679, and was served heir-male to his immediate brother John in the Barony of Keir on 1st May 1694 at the age of 15.

The Stirlings of Keir were ardent Jacobites and in 1708 James Stirling of Keir was imprisoned in London’s Newgate Jail for his part to restore the Stuarts (his in-laws) to the throne. James also fought at the battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715, which was fought on lands owned to this day by the Stirlings of Kippendavie. The Keir lands were forfeit for his part in the activities, but were purchased back by friends for his son. Nevertheless James once again fought in the battle of the ’45 with Bonnie Prince Charlie.

He was married on 24th February 1704 in Cardonald to Marion Stuart, the eldest daughter of Alexander Stuart, Lord Blantyre and Anne Hamilton, his second wife. Anne was the daughter of Sir Robert Hamilton, Lord Pressman.

James & Marion had an amazing 14 sons and 8 ((eight) daughters, a total of 22 children!

1745 – Bonnie Prince Charlie & Migration To America

James and his sons and grandsons were active in the 45. At the Mitchell library in Glasgow the receipts for the construction of their uniforms can be reviewed. After the battle The Stirlings tried to escape via boat to Holland, but were captured and sent to Dumbarton Castle as prisoners. They escaped when James’s daughter Margaret wound a rope around her waist during a visit and gave it to them. Because of the situation in Scotland several of his sons fled to Jamaica to seek fame and fortune in the sugar cane and rum industry.

Jamaica – Sojourners in The Sun

To support the house and estates of Keir and to give opportunity for James’s 21 children, many of them came to this island. Eventually four sugar plantations were purchased or begun by the family, the largest being Hampen in Trelawny Parish. The plantations were in production for over 100 years, before being sold in the mid 19th century by Sir William Stirling-Maxwell the then proprietor of Keir.

There is a great deal of information on James and this time period, we’ll explore it in more detail later.

James died on 25 February 1749, and was succeeded at Keir by his eldest Son John.

John Stirling of Keir And Cawder

John was born at Erskine on 18th November 1704. He died unmarried in Edinburgh on 7th July 1757 at the age of 54. He was succeeded at Keir by his brother Archibald.

Archibald Stirling of Keir & Cawder

Archibald was born at Keir on the 4th of September 1710. He went to Jamaica early in life and made enough money to return to Scotland. There are many letters, account books, charters and other documents about his life at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. He died without an heir on 3rd November 1783, and was succeeded by his brother William. We’ll have more on Archibald in a later installment.

William Stirling of Keir & Cawder – 12th & Last Son of Sir James to Inherit Keir

William was born at Cawder on 5th June 1725, the last son of Sir James Stirling of Keir & Cawder to inherit the estates of Keir. He was the 12th son of James, and inherited only because his eleven older brothers all failed to provide an heir.

He married 1st Helen Gray, the 2nd daughter of John, Lord Gray in 1765. She died at Cawder in 1776. Next he married Jean Stuart, the youngest daughter of Sir John Stuart of Castlemilk, Baronet and Dame Helen Orr.

William Stirling died suddenly at Keir on the 22nd of May 1793 while walking in the grounds with his son Archibald. He was succeeded by his eldest son by his first marriage James Stirling.

James Stirling of Keir & Cawder

James was born at Cawder on the 8th of October 1766 He was active in the military and fought in Sicily. He died unmarried on 26th July 1831, at the age of sixty-four, and was succeeded by his brother Archibald. A large marble bust of James can be seen inside the Parish Kirk of LeCropt, just across from the Keir estate.

Archibald Stirling of Keir and Cawder

Archibald was born on the 2nd of August 1769 at Cawder. He was a planter in Jamaica for over 25 years on his fathers Hampden estates and Frontier. After his return he married Elizabeth Maxwell, the 2nd daughter of Sir John Maxwell of Pollock, Bart in 1815. She died at the age of 29 on the 5th of September 1822.

He greatly changed the look and use of the lands of Keir and Cawder during his lifetime. We’ll spend more time with Archibald in a later segment.

He died on 9th April 1847 and was succeeded by his eldest son –

Sir William Stirling-Maxwell

Sir William was born in 1818 at Kenmure. He graduated BA from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1839 and got his MA degree there in 1843. In 1852 he sold the estate of Hampden in Jamaica. He made considerable alterations to the lands and house of Keir. The improvements were done between the years 1852 and 1857. He is the author of a number of works and was a collector of many fine pieces of art, particularly Velazquez and other Spanish Artists.

Sir William was a member of Parliament for Perthshire form 1852-1868, and from 1874 until his death in 1878. On his death his son John Stirling became the 9th Baronet of Pollock. In recent years his daughter donated the Pollock house near Glasgow to Glasgow Corporation to house the world famous Burrell Collection.

The 19th Century at Keir -General Archibald Stirling of Keir

Sir William’s second son Archibald inherited the estate of Keir and achieved the rank of General in the Army. During the 19th Century Keir house had been extensively rebuilt and added to by Sir William. Stirling-Maxwell.

20th Century – Sir William Stirling of Keir

General Archibald Stirling of Keir was succeeded by his son Colonel William Stirling. His brother David was the famous “Phantom Major of World War II, and founder of the Long Range Desert Groups known as the SAS regiment. He was not the only David Stirling who fought the Germans in World War II. David M. Stirling’s uncle, David Stirling, now deceased, was a Squadron Leader in London. According to his nephew this David, who was the Commandant of the RAF School of Photography, got many phone calls directed to the OTHER David Stirling, the founder of the SAS during the course of the war.

In 1934 the Stirlings of Keir house was once again Catholic, and donated much of the funds required to build the Catholic church in Claredon Place, Dunblane. Most of the interior wood for this church came from Keir Lands.

A group photo taken at the private chapel at Keir, Dunblane, at the christening of the infant son and heir of Mr. And Mrs. William Stirling of Keir. Left to right are: Rev. Father J. B. Rowland, S.J., the Hon. Mrs. Stirling of Keir, Mrs. William Stirling and baby, Mrs J. H. F. McEwen and Captain McEwen M.P., godfather. The baby was christened Archibald Hugh Stirling. Mr. William Stirling, the father, is at present on active service abroad. (1941)

The Current Laird of Ancient Keir

The Present Laird of Keir

Sadly in 1975 the late Colonel William Stirling of Keir sold Keir House and 180 acres of the park to Mahdi al-Tajir who in the 1980’s was the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Court of St. James. Mr. al-Tajir also bought from Colonel Stirling a further 35,000 acres some miles away from Keir which now forms the water source for Highland Spring, the bottled water company which Mr. al-Tajir started and still owns.The land which forms the Barony of Keir and 2000 acres of arable land surrounding the house are still owned by the present laird Archie Stirling of Keir.

Although Colonel William Stirling sold most of the great old master paintings in the family collection, those by El Greco, Goya, Murillo, Zurburan etc. and the house itself, a lot of the remaining pictures and chattels had been placed in large stores on the estate by Colonel Stirling’s wife Susan who had refused to move out of the house when she discovered it had been sold, a fact she did not find out about until a year after the event. After this discovery she partitioned off 12 rooms inside the main house where she remained until she died in 1983. With great generosity when he discovered the circumstances of the sale, Mahdi al Tajir did not seek to evict Mrs. Stirling but carried on making his own alterations and refurbishment’s to the major part of the house to which he had access without in any way impinging on Mrs. Stirling.

Although it was in many ways tragic that the late Colonel Stirling sold the house it was not simply as a result of foolish expenditure but rather due to an inability to understand cash flow. During his stewardship the family owned considerable estates in Tanzania which were later appropriated by the Tanzanian government, they also had oil drilling companies (KCA Drilling etc), started the Abu Dhabi National Drilling Company, owned oil concessions in the Middle East, had international civil engineering companies which built roads, railways and dams all over the world but principally in East Africa, South Africa, Thailand, Egypt and North Africa. Unfortunately great ideas require great cash flow and many of the sales that took place were to raise funds to placate the banks.

Archie Stirling of Keir now lives at Ochtertyre, a substantial house on the edge of the remaining land which is still farmed and run as an estate. In 1995 Christie’s, on the instructions of the present laird, held a large sale at a site near Keir to dispose of those items which had been held in store for 20 years and which were beginning to deteriorate through lack of use and the problems arising from long term storage. Included were many items which simply could not be accommodated at Ochtertyre, a house of some twenty five rooms as opposed to the hundred plus rooms of Keir.

Next Installment-

Lukas, The First Laird, And A Look At The Arguments About His Ancestry

In the next installment we’ll take a closer look at this first Laird of Keir, and explore his parentage. There are several arguments and lines that have been proposed, shot down and discussed for well over 300 years. Thanks to technology, the Internet, and the historical collection of Trustee Bob McCutcheon we can shed some light on the earliest progenitors of the Stirling Family.

If you have more information about the Keir Stirlings, questions, or suggestions, comments, please feel free to contact me

From Lukas to Thoraldus
28 September 2000 – Stirling, Scotland. We begin the Next Segment on the Stirlings of Keir with the First Laird of Keir, Lukas Strivelyng.




ukas Strivelying purchased the lands of Ratherne or Quoigs which lie in the parish of Dunblane between 1395 and 1415. On the 8th of October 1414 he obtained a Charter from Euphemia Countess Palatine of Stratherne, for the lands of Wester Ratherne in the Earldom of Stratherne.

On the 11th of January 1423 Lucas de Strevelyn was served nearest heir of the deceased William of Strevelyn, his father in the said lands of Rathoran and others. The retour shows that William had been dead about 30 years. This retour is in Latin and a copy is transcribed in the Book “The Stirlings of Keir” (Page 212). Lukas thus began the important process of consolidating his land holdings in Perthshire in and around Stirling by trading off lands he held in Fife and other areas. If he had not done this his posterity would likely have lost them as they were too far apart to support properly.


Lukas acquired a great deal of land during his lifetime. In addition to Ratherne, Rathoran and Quoigs he later obtained Bouchquhumgre in the barony of Leslie and the shire of Fife, and was designated these lands in 1448, when mutual excambions of lands were made between him and Lord George the Leysly (Leslie). He later swapped these lands in 1448 with Lord George the Leysly of Lewyn and acquired Keir. Lord George ended up with the lands of Bynzharty and the hills of Ballingalle in the Lordship of Leslie. These excambions were made by procuratories of resignation granted by the respective proprietors. The Procuratory by Lukas of Sterling is dated 6th May 1448. It empowers William of Sterling, his son and apparent heir, to resign Bynzharty and the hills of Ballingalle, holding of the baron of that ilk, at Leysly, the Lord’s chief place of the same barony. This charter is where Fraser acquired an image of Lukas’s seal shown below. (The Stirlings of Keir, Page 16-17)

This seal, on a bend, three buckles is still preserved today in the Rothes Charter Chest. The buckles are important as they show the buckles continued to be carried by Lukas Striveling in the 15th Century, just as they had in the past by his Father William. The seal also shows that both the Cadder and Keir Families had the buckles on a bend instead of a chief. This variation is noticed by Nisbet in his book of Heraldry, but Nisbet does not attach any importance to the different situation of the buckles. On the 7th of May 1448 a procuratory was granted by Lord George of Leysly, for resigning in the King’s hands, the half of the Lands of Keyr, in favour of Lucas of Striveling of Boquhumgre. A copy of this charter is listed in The Stirlings of Keir, #25, Page 222. In 1425 Lukas and another Stirling, Duncan were two that participated in the inquest on the Service of Sir John Haldane, Knight, as son and heir of Sir Bernard Haldane, Knight. This Duncan may the originator of the Stirlings of Craigbernard. Lukas is reported to have married Marjorie Dunbar of Cockburn in Berwick. Her father was George Dunbar, the Earl of March. Her mother
was Beatrix.


Several of the different segments of the Stirling family here on Clan Stirling Online are related to Lukas and the Stirlings of Keir – Lukas is the –

10th Great Grandfather of James Sterling of Cornwall Connecticut. James came to America about 1750, fought in the Revolutionary war. His descendants are very active in researching his ancestry.

7th Great Grandfather of Patrick Sterling of Kippendavie, born on 8 Apr 1704, and died in November 1745. You can find more information on the Stirlings of Kippendavie here on the website.


Genealogists have long known that there were two principal stocks of Stirlings whose origin and armorial bearings were perfectly distinct—the Sheriffs of Stirling, with their Cadder, Craigbernard, Glorat, Law and other descendants, who bore buckles on their shields, and the Stirlings of Moray and Glenesk, now represented by the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, who bore stars One of the more interesting aspects regarding Lukas the First Laird of Keir is the differing views of his ancestry. Over the years there has been quite a bit of posturing, arguing and book writing about it. Most of the accounts do agree on one point at least – that his father was William De Strvelying of Rathoran. It’s important to know more about Lukas’s ancestry, as his ancestral line combines with the Cadder line of the family in the 3rd Generation. Most of the confusion stems from William Fraser’s “The Stirlings of Keir” published in 1857. In this book the author tried to claim Chieftain status to the name by showing a superior ancestral line to the Cadder branch of the family. Over a hundred-year period several books were written on the subject, in much more detail than is required here. Time has not been too kind to the position claimed by Fraser, and the more accepted view of Lukas’s ancestry are portrayed in Bain’s “The Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat”, Thomas Stirlings “The Stirlings of Cadder and Dumpellier and Riddell’s “Comments In Refutation of Pretensions Advanced For The First Time & Statements in A Recent Work “The Stirlings of Keir & Their Family Papers” With An Exposition Of The Right Of Stirlings Of Drumpellier To The Representation of the Stirlings of Cadder.” (Noted as “Comments On Keir” in later examples) These later works show Lukas is a descendant of Vicecomes Thoraldus.

Fraser knew of Thoraldus when he wrote The Stirlings of Keir, for Thoraldus is claimed to have been the ancestor of the Stirling Family by William Playfair in his extensive work “British Family Antiquity” published in London in 1811, a book Fraser had used in other accounts prior to the Stirlings of Keir. John Riddell in his late 19th Century account Comments on Keir agreed with Playfair and listed the descent of the Stirlings. In a similar manner Thomas Stirling whose work on the Stirlings of Cadder was published after his death in the 1930’s, also agreed with Playfair, Ridell and Bain. Given that Fraser was a “hired-gun” to portray the more powerful Keirs as chieftains of the family is quite obvious, and the genealogist should treat the material accordingly. It is generally accepted the main errors in Fraser’s account occur in the first three generations of the line, and in the claim to Chief status of the name. The rest of the material is quite good, since Fraser had access to Keir and other families Charter Chests.

Early Stirling Genealogy – A Comparison

A brief comparison to the two schools of thought regarding the ancestry of Lukas will help clear up the confusion. It should be noted that the I-VIII assignments are for successive heads of the family, not a genealogical tree. III Alexander and IV John are in fact both sons of II. William in the left side account.


Bain, Riddell, Playfair & Others
I. Thoraldus I Walter De Striuelyng
II. William Son of Thoraldus II Peter De Striuelyng of Cambusbarron
III. Alexander Son of William III Sir Alexander De Striueling of Cawder
IV. (John brother to III Alex., son of II.) IV John (listed as son instead of brother)
V. Sir William De Strivelying son of John V Sir William De Strivelying
VI. John de Striwelyne of Rathoran in Lorn VI. John De Striwelyne of Rathoran in Lorn
VII. William of Strivelyn of Rathoran VII. William of Strivelyn of Rathoran
VIII. Lukas of Strivelyng or Rathoran & Keir VIII. Lukas of Strivelyng or Rathoran & Keir

At the end of this account is a printout of the ancestry of Lucas with footnotes and sources. It is not considered complete but a working copy of where the research has taken us thus far. If you have more information or can add to the body of research on this topic, PLEASE DO SO!

Ancestors of Lukas Strivelyng of Keir – First Laird of Keir

FIRST GENERATION 1. Lukas Strivelyng of Keir – First Laird of Keir was born before 1370.1 He owned the lands of Ratherne or Quoigs, which lie in the parish of Dunblane between 1395 and 1405 in Dunblane, Perth, Scotland.2 He owned the lands of Wester Ratherne, in the earldom of Stratherne on October 8, 1414 in Wester Ratherne, Stratherne, Scotland.3 He died between December 10, 1449 and April 13, 1452 in Scotland.4 He has reference number VIII. – The Stirlings of Keir..5

Lucas or Luke, did not have long to enjoy the new estates of Keir which he had purchased from Norman Leslie in 1448. In some accounts he is said to have died in 1450, just two years later.

“The Keir” is named after the Celtic term for a rough fort – Gaelic Caer. There are quite a number of “Caer’s” running along the valley of Menteith, in the basin of the forth. All are just mounds of stones covered with turf, many were taken down and the stones used for construction of other buildings.

Sir Walter Scott wrote of the Keir estate, after staying there while in his youth. In “The Lady of The Lake” he called it “The Lofty brow of ancient Keir.”

So with Lucas begins a 500-year history at the Keir, a journey which ended tragically in 1995 when the estate was sold.

SECOND GENERATION 2. William de Strivelyng of Rathoran was born about 1339 in Scotland.6,7 He died about 1393 in Scotland.8 He has reference number VII – Stirlings of Keir.9

William may have been born in 1339, being the year following the marriage of his parents. He possessed the lands of Rathoran by the same tenure as they had been granted to Mary, the wife of John de Striwelyne, and her heirs. It appears from the retour of his son in 1423 that William had been dead about 30 years, this is since 1393, fifty-five years after the grant to Mary Stirling. Source: The Stirlings of Keir, Page 15. William de Strivelyng of Rathoran had the following children:

1       i. Lukas Strivelyng of Keir – First Laird of Keir.

THIRD GENERATION 4. John de Striwelyne of Rathoran in Lorn was born about 1295 in Scotland.10 He served in the military on July 19, 1333 in Halidon Hill, Scotland.11

John de Striwelyne is presumed to have been taken prisoner at Halidon Hill on 19th of July 1333, where his cousin of the same name was slain.

John married Mary, the aunt of John of Argyll, Lord of Lorn the last of the male line of the ancient Lords of Lorn, who claimed descent from Dugal, the son of Somerled of Argyle and the Isles. John of Lorn granted to Mary, his Aunt, the lands of Rathoran, and others, in Lorn, to be held of the granter of payment of a pair of spurs. This charter is dated at Perth on the (Activity of St. Mary 1338 (Haile’s Annals, vol. iii. p. 92, 1792 Edition); it was perhaps granted to the lady on the occasion of her marriage.

In the following year, 1339 John de Striwelyne and Alan Boyd, styled by Fordun ‘valentes armigeri’ commanded the Archers, under the Steward of Scotland, at the siege of Perth, when they were both slain. (Fordoun, xiii. Page 45)

Wyntoun in his Cronykil also records the death of John de Striwelyne at Perth –

Qwhil thai ware lyand at that Toun
Thai had oft tymys bykkoryng,
Qwhare there wes far and nere schotyng
Thaire deyd two Scottis Sqwyeris
As thai war governand thaire archerys
Alane Boyd and Jhone of Stryvelyne
(Vol II, Page 233-234) He died in 1339 in Siege of Perth, Perth, Scotland.12

He has reference number VI. – The Stirlings of Keir..13

He was married to Mary of Lorn in 1338 in Scotland.14

5. Mary of Lorn.

Mary is the Aunt of John of Argyll, Lord of Lorn, the last of the male line of the ancient Lords of Lorn. John de Striwelyne of Rathoran in Lorn and Mary of Lorn had the following children: 2

i. William de Strivelyng of Rathoran.

FOURTH GENERATION 8. Sir William de Striveling Knight was born about 1270 in Scotland.15 He died about 1295 in Scotland.16 He has reference number V. – The Stirlings of Keir.17


This Seal Reads – S’ Ionisdestrivelynmilitus … Sir John de Strivelyn Knight

This seal reads – s’willelmi de strevelin … Sir William de Strevelin

This third brother, Sir William de Strivelyn, is presumed by Mr. Fraser to be the ancestor of the line of Keir. This hypothesis was keenly controverted by Mr. Riddell in his comments on Keir, who was counsel for the Stirlings of Drumpellier in their claim to the representation of the House of Cadder. He maintained there was no legal evidence that John de Strivelyn, who married Mary the aunt of John of Lorne, from whom she received a charter of the lands of Rathorane in 1338, was the son of this Sir William; and strictly speaking there is none. But looking calmly at the matter now, after the lapse of twenty-five years, it may be admitted there are considerable probabilities in favour of the Keir claim. The early title deeds of that family are said to have been destroyed when James III burned the Tower of Keir. shortly before the battle of Sauchieburn, in 1488. John, the husband of Mary of Lorne, must have been the son of a man of some position, or he could hardly have aspired to such an alliance. And the entail between his grandson Luke Stirling and his contemporary, William Stirling of Cadder, in 1414 (Keir Book, p. 206), points to some not distant relationship between them, -a probable explanation being that they may have been the great grandsons of the brothers Sir Alexander and Sir William. This descent, however, from the youngest of the three brothers, necessarily forecloses any claim by the Keir branch to the chiefship of the family,-a fact long since practically admitted,-for the extinction of every offshoot of the Cadder Stirlings would first require to be proved by them. (The Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat, Page 3-4)

William is listed as the tie into the Cadder line of the Stirling family with his Brother. The Stirlings of Keir lists him this way “William of Strivelyn of Rathoran.”

See Brice Clagget Manuscript for more information.

Sir William witnessed a charter by William Gourlay to the Abbey of Melrose in the year 1293 (Sir James Dalrymple’s Coll. xxix.) and with Sir John de Striveling, his brother he witnessed a charter by William de Kinmonde to the Abbey of Cambuskenneth (Nisbet’s Heraldry Vol. I. p. 401) Sir James Balfour, in his Blazons, says, that in the year 1292, “Sir William Stirling carried, parted per fesse, sable and or, three buckles of the last on the first.”

Several seals, belonging to persons of the name of Stirling, are appended to the Deeds of Homage – commonly called the Ragman Rolls, which were exacted by Edward I the King of England from the Scottish Barons in 1292 and 1296, and are preserved in the Chapter House, Westminster. Willelmus de Strevelin has a shield of arms, and a chief three buckles, supported by two lions. Sir William de Striveling Knight had the following children:

4       i. John de Striwelyne of Rathoran in Lorn.

FIFTH GENERATION 16. Sir John De Strivelyn Dominus de Ochiltree was born before 1214.18 He has reference number IV – Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat.19 He has reference number IV – Stirlings of Cadder & Drumpellier.20 He was a Sheriff of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland.21 John is called the son of Alexander (brother here), by the Editor of the Stirlings of Keir; but from the evidence adduced by Riddell, he was more probably his younger brother, and appears to have flourished about the middle of the 13th century. Source: (Cartulary of Lennox; and The Lennox, vol. ii) Sir John De Strivelyn Dominus de Ochiltree had the following children:

i. Alexander De Strivelyn Del Conte De Lanark was born before 1272 in Scotland.22 Granted a charter of the church lands of “Alveth to Saint Servan of “alveth” which is witnessed “Hohanne Filio meo Promogenito” (Cartulary of Cambuskenneth.) This Alexander is clearly Lord of the Carse and Alva. He was Swore Fealty to Edward II on the Ragman Roll in 1296 in Scotland.23 He died before 1304 in Scotland.24,25 Thomas Willing Stirling in his Stirlings of Cadder wrongly assumes that Alexander didn’t sign the ragman roll as his Son subscribed it for him. However as has been pointed out, Alexander and Johanne were brothers, not father and son. So the “Hohannes De Strivelyng de Carse” on the Ragman roll is his brother. He was also known as Alisandre De Strivelyn Del Conte de Lanark.26 Sir Alexander de Strivelyn, “del Conte de Lanark,” swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296. His seal is on the Ragman Rolls, and he was the ancestor of the Cadder line.

In the Stirlings of Keir Fraser incorrectly states that Alexander is the father of the next in Line William De Striveling, but in fact William is his younger brother. (Keir, Page 13)

ii. Lord Joannes De Strivelyn De Carse and Alva was born before 1292 in Scotland.27 Joannes was a signer of the Ragman Roll in 1292. He was Swore Fealty to Edward II on the Ragman Roll in 1296.28,29

He appears as “Jehan de Striveline chevaler” on the Ragman Roll. His seal, three round buckles on a chief, is in the Chapter House Collection, H.M. Public Record Office.

His only daughter, having married one of the Menteiths of Ruskie, carried his estates into that family, who, in consequence of the alliance, quartered the Stirling buckles with their own coat of arms.

8       iii. Sir William de Striveling Knight.

SIXTH GENERATION 32. William Filius Thoraldi Vicecomes de Strivelyn was Witnessed a Charter by King William the Lion (1165- 1214) between 1165 and 1214 in Stirling, Scotland.30 Mr. Riddell quotes two charters by William the Lion, who reigned from 1165 to 1214, which are witnessed by “Willielmo, filio Thoraldi.” Also a charter without date by “Willielmus, filius Thoraldi, Vicecomes de Strivelyn, to the church of Saint Mary of Stirling and abbot thereof (the same as of Cambuskenneth), of the Church of Kirkintullock, “Cum dimidia carrucata terre pro anima mea et animis patris mei et matris mea” and which is witnessed “Alano filio ejus” and others. He was born before 1214 in Scotland.31 He died after 1214.32 He has reference number II – Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat.33 He has reference number II – Stirlings of Cadder & Drumpillier.34

His status and relationship are vouched by a charter of William the Lyon to Arbroath Abbey, of a salt pit in the karse to which William is a witness, and a charter by the same king to the Abbey of Dunfermline, to which he is a witness, granted at Stirling. and lastly a charter granted by himself as “William, son of Thorald, Sheriff of Stirling,” of the church of Kirkintilloch, to Cambuskenneth Abbey, witnessed by Alan his son among others. There are all without date, but are prior to 1214 when King William the Lyon died.

Other documents cited by Riddell, show that he had at least two sons besides the above Alan, Alexander and John, Alex was the oldest. William Filius Thoraldi Vicecomes de Strivelyn had the following children:

i. Alexander Vicomes De Strivelyn Sherriff of Stirling was born about 1222 in Scotland.35,36 He was a Justiciar of Lothian between 1222 and 1244 in Scotland.37 He resided First of Ochiltree and Cadder before 1244 in Ochiltree, Scotland.38 He died about 1244.39 He has reference number III – Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat.40 He has reference number III – Stirlings of Cadder & Drumpellier.41

Alexander son of William, son of Thorald, or simply “The Sheriff of Stirling” and Josticiar of Lothian, was the first proprietor on record of the estates of Ochiltree and Cadder.

The charters and other documents cited by Riddell from the Chartularies of Dunfermline, of the priory of St. Andrews, of Newbottle, and other sources, fully prove his existence and style, and that he had brothers. (The Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat, Also Comments on Keir, Page 194-195)

ii. Alan De Strivelyn was born before 1214.42

16      iii. Sir John De Strivelyn Dominus de Ochiltree.

SEVENTH GENERATION 64. Vicecomes Toraldus43 was born before 1147.44 He has reference number I – Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat.45 He has reference number I – Stirlings of Cadder & Drumpellier.46

The Sheriffs of Stirling, afterwards Stirlings of Cadder and Ochiltree, and their representatives, come from this man.

He is held to have been one of the distinguished strangers from the south, who were brought by David I. to civilize his native country; and from the names of the other witnesses to David’s charter, must have been a person of the highest rank. He was named in a charter by David I, granting to Kelso Abbey a salt pit in Carsaak, dated “apud Strivelin.”

John, bishop of Glasgow, one of these witnesses, having died in 1147, according to the Chronicles of Melrose and Holyrood, Thoraldus thus flourished at that early date.

Nothing More seems to be known of him.

Source: The Stirlings of Craigbernard and Glorat. Page A.

In the Chartulary of Kelso there is a charter by David I, “to the abbey of Kelso, of a salt-pit in Carsaak, dated “apud Strivelin” which is witnessed “Roberto Sancti Andrea Episcopo; Johanne, Glasguensi Episcopo, Edwardo Cancellario; Duncano Comiti; Herberto, Camerario; Toraldo, Vicecomite; Alwino MacArchile, Uctredo filio Fergusii. All the above witnesses were persons of the highest rank and consideration, holding great public offices; and besides the first two Bishops of the Kingdom, the Chancellor, and Chamberlain, there is Duncan, Earl of Fife, Alwin MacArchile, held by antiquarians to be ancestor of the Earls of Lennox, and Uchtred, son of Fergus, the Lord of Galloway. Thoraldus is held to have been a Saxon chief or leader, whom, with various Saxons, Normans, and Strangers, David I, during what Chalmers styles the Scoto-Saxon period, imported into Scotland to colonize and civilize it.

From the date of the above charter at Stirling, taken with what will follow, we may conclude that the Sheriffdom he undoubtedly held was that of Stirling. This charter must have been signed in or before 1147, that being the year when, according to the “Chronicles of Melrose and Holyrood” John, Bishop of Glasgow, a witness thereto, died.

Source: The Stirlings of Cadder & Dumpellier Page 13. Vicecomes Thoraldus had the following children:

32      i. William Filius Thoraldi Vicecomes de Strivelyn.


In our next segment we will take a virtual walk around the grounds of Keir and look at some old maps of the surrounding area. In the next installment will also be the answer to the following trivia question about the Estate of Keir –

What Movie was filmed on and around the Keir estate in the 1970’s? Send your answers to [email protected].
1. Fraser. The Stirlings of Keir. Privately published 150 copies. 1857. Page 16-17.
2. Ibid. Page 16-17.
3. Ibid. Page 16-17.
4. Ibid. Page 19.
5. Ibid. Page 16.
6. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Keir Manuscripts and Family Group Sheets in the Medieval Families Section on the lower floor of the LDS Church Family History Center in Salt Lake City Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. From chishom.ged retrieved from eng1&id=I38664 which was submitted by Raymond L. Montgomery at [email protected] (19 Sep 2000).
7. William Fraser. The Stirlings of Keir and Their Family Papers. Edinburgh, Privately Printed 1858. Limited to 150 copies. Pg. 13, 15.
8. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Keir Manuscripts and Family Group Sheets in the Medieval Families Section on the lower floor of the LDS Church Family History Center in Salt Lake City Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. From chishom.ged retrieved from eng1&id=I38664 which was submitted by Raymond L. Montgomery at [email protected] (19 Sep 2000).
9. William Fraser. The Stirlings of Keir and Their Family Papers. Edinburgh, Privately Printed 1858. Limited to 150 copies. Page 15.
10. Fraser. The Stirlings of Keir. Privately published 150 copies. 1857. Page 15.
11. Ibid. Page 15.
12. Ibid. Page 15.
13. Ibid. Page 15.
14. Ibid. Page 15.
15. Ibid. Page 13.
16. Ibid. Page 13.
17. Ibid. Page 13.
18. Joseph Bain, FSA. The Stirlings of Craigbernard and Glorat, Representatives of the house of Cadder and the Earls of Bothwell, and notices of their Cadets; some leaves of Lennox history, with Appendix of Charters and other Documents. Copies on File – Scottish Historical Society, 15 Upper Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh, 1883, Private published. 127 pages. Page 1- 3.
19. Ibid. Page 3.
20. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder and Drumpellier, an account of The Original Family of That Name and of The Family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. With which the representation of the ancient house of Cadder Now Lies. W.C. Hernerson & Son, Ltd., University Press, St. Andrews, Scotland, pub. 1933. Page 14.
21. Joseph Bain, FSA. The Stirlings of Craigbernard and Glorat, Representatives of the house of Cadder and the Earls of Bothwell, and notices of their Cadets; some leaves of Lennox history, with Appendix of Charters and other Documents. Copies on File – Scottish Historical Society, 15 Upper Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh, 1883, Private published. 127 pages. Page 3.
22. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder : an account of the original family of that name and of the family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. St. Andrews : W.C. Henderson & Son : University Press 1933 117 pages. LCCN: 92-178029 LC Call No: CS479.S71933. Page 17.
23. Bain. The Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat. Page 2.
24. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder : an account of the original family of that name and of the family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. St. Andrews : W.C. Henderson & Son : University Press 1933 117 pages. LCCN:92-178029 LC Call No: CS479.S71933. Page 17.
25. Bain. The Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat. Page 4.
26. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder and Drumpellier, an account of The Original Family of That Name and of The Family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. With which the representation of the ancient house of Cadder Now Lies. W.C. Hernerson & Son, Ltd., University Press, St. Andrews, Scotland, pub. 1933. Pg. 21.
27. Ibid. Pg. 18.
28. Bain. The Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat. Page 4.
29. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder : an account of the original family of that name and of the family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. St. Andrews : W.C. Henderson & Son : University Press 1933 117 pages. LCCN:92-178029 LC Call No: CS479.S71933. Page 17 – Thomas Stirling is incorrect here – while he shows that John signed the Ragman roll, he supposes that Joannes is the son of Alexander, not his brother.
30. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder and Drumpellier, an account of The Original Family of That Name and of The Family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. With which the representation of the ancient house of Cadder Now Lies. W.C. Hernerson & Son, Ltd., University Press, St. Andrews, Scotland, pub. 1933. Pg. 13.
31. Joseph Bain, FSA. The Stirlings of Craigbernard and Glorat, Representatives of the house of Cadder and the Earls of Bothwell, and notices of their Cadets; some leaves of Lennox history, with Appendix of Charters and other Documents. Copies on File – Scottish Historical Society, 15 Upper Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh, 1883, Private published. 127 pages. Page 1-3.
32. Ibid. Page 1-3.
33. Ibid. Page 2.
34. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder and Drumpellier, an account of The Original Family of That Name and of The Family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. With which the representation of the ancient house of Cadder Now Lies. W.C. Hernerson & Son, Ltd., University Press, St. Andrews, Scotland, pub. 1933. Page 13.
35. Joseph Bain, FSA. The Stirlings of Craigbernard and Glorat, Representatives of the house of Cadder and the Earls of Bothwell, and notices of their Cadets; some leaves of Lennox history, with Appendix of Charters and other Documents. Copies on File – Scottish Historical Society, 15 Upper Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh, 1883, Private published. 127 pages. Page 1-3.
36. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder and Drumpellier, an account of The Original Family of That Name and of The Family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. With which the representation of the ancient house of Cadder Now Lies. W.C. Hernerson & Son, Ltd., University Press, St. Andrews, Scotland, pub. 1933. Pg. 14.
37. Bain. The Stirlings of Craigbernard & Glorat. Page 2.
38. Ibid. Page 2.
39. Joseph Bain, FSA. The Stirlings of Craigbernard and Glorat, Representatives of the house of Cadder and the Earls of Bothwell, and notices of their Cadets; some leaves of Lennox history, with Appendix of Charters and other Documents. Copies on File – Scottish Historical Society, 15 Upper Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh, 1883, Private published. 127 pages. Page 1-3.
40. Ibid. Page 2-3.
41. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder and Drumpellier, an account of The Original Family of That Name and of The Family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. With which the representation of the ancient house of Cadder Now Lies. W.C. Hernerson & Son, Ltd., University Press, St. Andrews, Scotland, pub. 1933. Page 14.
42. Joseph Bain, FSA. The Stirlings of Craigbernard and Glorat, Representatives of the house of Cadder and the Earls of Bothwell, and notices of their Cadets; some leaves of Lennox history, with Appendix of Charters and other Documents. Copies on File – Scottish Historical Society, 15 Upper Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh, 1883, Private published. 127 pages. Page 1-3.
43. Ibid. Page 1-3.
44. Ibid. Page 1-3.
45. Ibid. Pg. 1.
46. Thomas Willing Stirling. The Stirlings of Cadder and Drumpellier, an account of The Original Family of That Name and of The Family of the Stirlings of Drumpellier. With which the representation of the ancient house of Cadder Now Lies. W.C. Hernerson & Son, Ltd., University Press, St. Andrews, Scotland, pub. 1933. Page 13.

Conte – French for a Count or an Earl.

Dominus – Latin for Lord

Excambion \Ex*cam”bi*on\, Excambium \Ex*cam”bi*um\, n. [LL. excambium. (Scots Law) Exchange; barter; — used commonly of lands. Procuratories of Resignation – A person entrusted with management of the financial affairs of a province and often having administrative powers as agent of the King. In this case it’s a resignation of this trust.

Retour – Literally “go over again” or “reiterate”

Vicecomes – “David I King of Scotland began to spread direct royal influence through the kingdom by the creation of the office of sheriff (vicecomes), a royal judge and administrator ruling an area of the kingdom from one of the royal castles. Centrally, a nucleus of government officials, such as the chancellor, the chamberlain, and the justiciar, was created by David and his successors; these officials, with other tenants in chief called to give advice, made up the royal court (Curia Regis). ” From the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The lofty brow of Ancient Keir' a Walkabout

The Stirlings of Keir – Chapter III – The Lofty Brow of Ancient Keir

Keir Manor

The Estate of Keir has had numerous dwellings, forts, towers, notable visitors and guest over the past thousand years. Kings, a Prince seeking refuge, Earls, Knights, poets and even Chopin have been guests at this famous estate.

Sir Walter Scott celebrated the Keir in his famous poem “The Lady of the Lake” –

Blairdrummond sees the hoofs strike fire,
They sweep like breeze through Ochtertyre,
The mark just glance and disappear,
The lofty brow of ancient Keir

One of the most frequently asked questions at Clan Stirling Online is where the different Stirling Houses are located in Scotland. The Keir estate is not visable from the roadway, and the highway that goes by is the M9, a major throughfare between Stirling and Endinburgh. On a clear day you can see the estate from Stirling Castle, unfortuneately the last time I was there the weather was anything but “clear”. This photo was taken from the Douglas Garden at Stirling Castle – The Keir estate is just above the Title – as you pan towards the east you go across LeCropt (to the right of the estate) on over to Bridge of Allan (Just to the left of the University) and keep going over to the Wallace Monument. The Kippendavie estate is the cleared land above and to the left of the University – but it goes on over the hill and to the right a long ways.

Sheriffmuir were they fought in 1715 is above and to the right of the University.

Doune Castle is out of the picture to the left, but on the west side of the hill Keir is on – you can see Doune from Keir Lands.

The Keir House is a large and complex structure. The core or oldest portion of the house most likely dates from the middle of the 18th century. It is built on a magnificent site and enjoys an extensive prospect looking south over the carse of LeCropt, across the meanderings of the Forth to the impregnable rock on which Stirling Castle stands. (See Photo 2).

The house not specifically mentioned by topographer until John Stoddart, when travelling to Ochtertyre in 1799 described it simply as “a large modern building, on a commanding eminence.”

John Macky, in his book Journey Through Scotland, which was published in 1723 described the atmosphere, at least of the enrirons in and around Keir when he visited Stirling. Macky wrote two vivid accounts of a Highland Fair and a “Consort of Musick” that he attended. This was just eight years after the Jacobite Rebellion and the Battle of Sherrifmuir, which many Stirling men fought in support of The Stewart cause.

He found the highland Gentleman “mighty civil, dressed in their slashed shirt, waistcoats, a toursing (which is breeches and stockings of one piece) with a plaid fo ra cloak and a blue bonnet.” Their “ponyard, knife and fork in one sheath” took his fancy, as did the snuff mills and great broad sword that each man carried. Their attendants were “very numerous, all in belted plaids, girt like women’s petticoats down to the knee; their thighs and half of their legs all bare”. They too each had a broad sword and poniard.

Whether the Laird of Keir was in attendance at the concert or fair is unknown, but both by habit and political allegiance he was fitted to such gatherings, for he was James Stirling, the 10th Laird, and a very strong supporter of the house of Stewart.

The Stirlings have always been closely attached to the Scottish Royal Family. The Stewart Kings had bestowed knighthoods on eight of James Stirling’s forebears, beginning with Sir William De Striveline of Ratherne and Keir who was knighted in 1460 and married to Margaret Cunninghame. His son Sir William Striveling of Kere supported the nobles against King James III and was knighted by James IV after the battle of Sauchieburn. The third Laird, Sir John Stirling of Keir was made along with Lord Erskine and Lord Fleming a guardian of the young James V.

The oldest family papers were burned at the Estate by order of King James II just prior to the Battle of Sauchieburn after his son James III lost a skirmish with the royal forces. The prince sought refuge in the tower at Keir, and it was burned to the ground by his pursuers. (Stirlings of Keir pg. 23)

In the Oldest surviving documents the house and estate is cited as “Auld Keir”, but the type of house or estate is nowhere clearly described. The word Keir is a chain of stone and earth forts, each one described as a “keir’ These Keirs run along the north face of the vale of Momteith, and Keir no doubt occupied the site or was near one of them.

One reference to the old house at Keir is in Sir George Stirling’s will. Sir George was the head of the family during the Cromwellian times. In 1664 Sir George instructed his heirs to give “the virginells in the Laugh tour of the Keir” to the younger Lady Carnocke, from which it might be inferred that Keir was then a version of the usual Scottish 16th century tower house.

The plaster work in the house is outstanding, here are a couple of examples. (Originally Published in Country Life Magazine)


Sir George was the first of the Stirlings whose loyalty to the Stewarts was put to the test. In 1641 he was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle for plotting with the Marquis of Montrose on behalf of Charles I, and in 1652 the commissioners for dwquestering estates threatened to comfiscate the Keir lands “for his having entered England with the King and army.”

Sir George’s defense and evidence was that he himself had not crossed the border and the confiscation was commuted to a fine. Sir George was married four times, but none of his wives bore him an heir, his only daughter Margaret died just two months after her mother Dame Margaret Ross. Sir George erected a monument in memory of his wife and daughter on the south side of the chapel. The momument has been removed, but the inscription was preserved in Monteith’s Theatre of Martality.

“Here lyeth Dame Margaret Ross, dughter to James Lord Ross, and Dame Margaret Scot, daughter of Walter Lord Buccleugh, and sister to Walter Scot, Earl of Buccleugh. She was married to Sir George Sterline of Keir, knight, and chief of his name; and having lived a pattern and paragon, for piety and debonaritie, beyond her sex and age, when she had accomplished 17 years, she was called from this transitory life, to that eternal, 10 March 1633. She left behind her only one daughter, Margaret; who, in her pure innocency, soon followed her mother, the 11th day of May thereafter; when she had been 12 months showen to this world, and here lyeth, near unto her interred.

D. Georgius Sterline, de Keir, eques auratus, familiae princeps, conjugi dulcissimae poni curavit MDCXXXIII.”

James Stirling the 10th Laird when John Macky visited Stirling had succeeded to the estate when just a boy of 14 in 1693. In 1704 he married the Honorable Marion Stewart, the eldest daughter of 5th Lord Blantyre. This must have been quite a couple, as this successful partnership lasted for 45 years, and Mrs. Stirling bore her husband the amazing number of twenty-two children, fifteen boys and seven girls, most of whom grew to adulthood.

James was a staunch supporter of the exiled house of Stewart, In 1708 he participated in the abortive attempt to land French troops with the Old Pretender in Fife and after failing had to answer a general summons. James failed to appear and later was taken into custody with some of his Stirling cousins and was sent to Newgate Prison in London.



1. The Stirlings of Keir

Keir Estates In Jamaica - Part One
Originally post  October 21, 2002 The Stirling family held the estates of Keir, near Dunblane, and Cadder in the north of Glasgow from the 15th and 16th centuries respectively. Their involvement in Jamaica began in the 18th century. The then head of the family, Sir James Stirling (1679-1749), had 22 children and many were forced to emigrate to support themselves. Several of James’ sons and their descendants went to Jamaica as merchants and planters. Their estates produced sugar and rum.




The Stirlings had high hopes that their Jamaican estates of Frontier and Hampden would be extremely profitable but the harsh working environment, riots and insurrections ensured that the estates were never as profitable as they had expected.

The emancipation of slaves which occurred in 1833 quickly made the estates unprofitable.  The estates were eventually sold by Sir William Stirling-Maxwell (1818-1878) in the 1850s.

The following image is the Mortgage of Lands and Slaves between Robert Stirling and his brother, Archibald Stirling, 20 July 1750. The lands mortgaged consisted of a sugar plantation in the parish of St Thomas, in Jamaica, and the mortgage includes a schedule of slaves sold with the land. The original is located at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. (T-SK9/8/1)

Mortgage of Lands And Slaves between Robert Stirling and Archibald Stirling 20 Jul 1750

The following is a sketch of the house owned by the Stirlings of Keir on the Hampden plantation in Jamaica.  The orginal is located at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.  (T-SK22/15)

Hampden House Jamica - circa 1840's

Alan L. Karras published a book named “Sojourners In The Sun – Scottish Migrants in Jamaica and the Chesapeake, 1740-1800 in 1992.  The book was published by Cornell University.  Much of the information in the book is taken from the estate papers, ledgers, and other materials on the Hampden and other Keir estates in Jamaica.

The Cadder Estate

Originally posted November 20, 2004 – The estate of Cadder is about four miles north from Glasgow, on the road to Kirkintilloch, and a short way beyond Bishopbriggs. It has been the property of the ancient family of Stirling, (1) uninterruptedly, during nearly 700 years. A charter of the lands exists in the muniment room at Keir, in favour of Sir Alexander Strieuling, as far back as the reign of William the Lion, in the twelfth century.

The present owner is Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, Bart., of Cadder, Pollok, and Keir, who assumed the additional surname of Maxwell in 1866, on succeeding his maternal uncle, the last Sir John Maxwell, in the baronetcy and estate of Pollok.

From immemorial time there has been a manor house on Cadder estate. Previous to the erection of the present mansion, which has received several additions, an ancient castle stood near the site, and it is an interesting circumstance, that on one occasion John Knox dispensed the Sacrament in that old edifice.

Mr. Charles Stirling, leading partner of the once eminent West India firm of Stirling Gordon & Co., had a life-lease of Cadder House and grounds from his elder brother, the proprietor. He took possession in 1816, and made many improvements. Among these, he built the west wing of the mansion, formed a piece of ornamental-water from a bend of the river Kelvin which sweeps close behind the house, laid off additional gardens, and otherwise embellished this charming place. He also made a choice collection, in Italy, of paintings bronzes sculpture and antiquities, which remain in Cadder House, where he died on 30th January 1830, aged fifty-eight. (2)


How the Keirs got Cadder. – The above statement as to the ownership wants explanation. These lands have for 700 years been owned by Stirlings, but not by the same Stirlings.

In the beginning of the sixteenth century Andrew Stirling of Cadder, and Sir John Striveling of “the Keir” in Perthshire, were the heads of two distinct families. Andrew Stirling was the last of a long line of knights and lairds, the fibulati Strivelienses, or Stirlings of the Buckles, the undoubted chiefs of the name, or Stirlings of that Ilk. They trace certainly to Alexander, Vicecomes de Strivelyn, owner of Cadder and of other lands under William the Lion, and perhaps to Thoraldus, Vicecomes, said to have been a Saxon chief and one of the foreign favourites of David I. The Keir family claims to be a younger branch of Cadder, but cannot with certainty be traced beyond the end of the fourteenth century, when they held lands in Lorne. Next century we find them owning Keir (first one half and then the whole), and various lands in Perthshire and elsewhere. A pushing birsing-yont set they were, these Keirs. “Gang forward” was their motto, and none of them more faithfully acted up to it, nor cared less whom he trampled down, than Sir John Stirling, the contemporary of Andrew Stirling of Cadder.

Andrew Stirling died about 1522, followed soon after by his widow, Marjory Cunynghame, and leaving one little girl, Janet Stirling, sole heiress of Cadder, Uchiltrees, Lettyr, and other lands. Had Sir Walter touched with his wand the sad strange story of this unhappy girl, Cadder might have been a resort of pilgrims like Kenilworth and Cumnor. Sir John Gang-forward (who had already managed to acquire various new lands) resolved, cost what it would, to secure Cadder as well. His son, afterwards Sir James of Keir, entered heartily into the idea. And the Richard Varney of the plot, part henchman, part lover, was found in one Thomas Bischop, the family lawyer. It was a long game, and the stakes were high. But the Keirs were bold players, and before it was over, what with buying off this one and bribing that, what with wadsets and warrandices, (3) law costs and costs of one kind and another, nearly their whole estate lay on the table. To lose would have been ruin to them. But they won, and Cadder has been theirs ever since.

The chief moves in the game can be made out from extant documents. Between 1522 and 1524 Sir John procured from the various superiors the wardship of the orphan. Then in 1529 he had a crown grant of her marriage. And soon after her majority, in 1534, she became the wife of James, the son. A few months later, on 8th July 1835, she applied to the Lords of Council for protection against her father-in-law and her husband. Sir John, she said, having her and her lands in his power, had “causit ane pretendit matrimony to be made betwix the said James and hir, and sensyne the said Johnne has haldin and as yit haldis hir in subjection, and will nocht suffir her to speik with her friendis, and hes compellit hir to mak diuers alieniationnis and takkis of hir land, and tendis to gar her analie ye remanent or maist part yairof.” And their Lordships, though Sir John, a man of parts and influence, pled his cause in person, decreed that all alienations made by Janet should be void, “ay and quhile scho be brocht befor ye saidis Lordis, to declare hir mynd anent ye premissis, and yat lettres be direct hereupoun in forme as efferis.” So far all is plain enough.

Not so what follows. Six wretched years pass, and on 13th December 1541 Janet appears in person “before ye saidis Lordis” for a strange purpose. Six days before she had been before them “purposlie and of determit mynd to haif ratefyt and apprevit ane lettre of procuratore,” (granted with the consent, no doubt not ill to get, of her husband, now Laird of Keir) for the conveyance “to him and his airis quatsumeuer” of all her lands, but “throw the terrouris geven to me in zour presens,” she had “revoikt ze saidis lettres of procuratorie with all that followit thairupon, and revelit and schewin to zour Lordschipis sum secret wourd anent myself.” Now, on this 13th day of the same month, she has come back to carry out her first purpose, and, “uncompellit, coactit, circumvenit, dissauit, or deffraudit,” revokes the Revocation of six days before, passes over her little boy that should have been the care and the heir of both father and mother, and conveys to her husband and “his airis quatsumeuer,” Cadder, Uchiltrees, Lettyr, and all the ancient heritage of her house. (4)

How this deed was wrung from the hapless helpless girl : what long tale of cajolery or coercion those six years could tell : what sharper agony was compressed into these last six days : we can but guess. That “sum secret wourd anent herself” might have told us all. What we do know is, that this strange abdication was followed the month after (31st January 1542) by a divorce, or rather by a legal declaration that the marriage had been from the first null and void : James and Janet, it was now discovered, were within the forbidden degrees of blood. This Declaration of Nullity was a common device in those days for breaking the marriage tie, and the heiress of Cadder may have yielded at last to strip herself and rob her boy as the price of her freedom from a hated yoke.

But a few weeks after the divorce (23rd February 1542) Keir granted to Thomas Bischop, now styled “spouse affidat of the said Janet Stirling,” a Deed that may furnish a key to the mystery of iniquity. By this Deed, for certain moneys he had had of Bischop, “and for his help and labour in soliciting and furthering the conveyanse made by her of her heritages to the said James,” he assigns to Bischop her marriage, a chalder of oats and two oxen on Uchiltrees (the oldest of all the Cadder lands), and Uchiltrees itself (redeemable on Janet’s death) : he promises Bischop 250 merks : and he binds himself “to use his diligence for getting a remission from the king to the said Thomas for his alleged lying with the said Janet while she was the said James’ wife.” (5)

The husband who could put his hand to such a bond may fairly be suspected of any baseness : and this deed is suspicious on the face of it. What could the king have had to remit to any one in the matter? Possibly Janet was innocent of the “alleged” lying, and may only have been entrapped into some compromising situation. More probably she was guilty. We know how cruelly the two Keirs had used her : Bischop, as his career showed, was a man of parts and address : and we cannot wonder if the poor wife yielded to professions and opportunities arranged between him and the high-spirited husband. But Janet was no nun to be

“Number’d with the dead
For broken vows and Convent fled.”

She was, at most, a loose woman in a loose age, when ill lives in high places, lay and clerical, (6) were hurrying on the Reformation; and an offender of her sort was safe enough from His Majesty King James V. But she may have known nothing of all this. From a child she had been under the power of these Keirs : years agone they would “nocht suffer her to speik with her friendis” : and she may have yielded to vague terrors, which Bischop pretended to share till relieved by this Deed.

And so the long game was won at last, and this was “How the Keirs got Cadder” (7)

They have kept it ever since. Both estates passed on Sir James’ death, not to John, his only son by Janet, who was the rightful heir of both, (8) but to Archibald, his son by Jean Cheesholm, who cannot be proved to have had one drop of Cadder blood in his veins.

The two estates have never since been parted. But they were both all but lost last century. Jacobite James, then laird, was forfeited for his share in the ’15. And the family was only saved from disappearing, like their neighbours the Kilsyths and the Linlithgows, by the kindness of friends, who bought in the estates, and afterwards conveyed them to John, the eldest of Jacobite James’ fifteen sons. John’s grand-nephew was the late Sir William Stirling-Maxwell.

Whose the estates are to be now is uncertain. It is understood that Sir William has left all his lands to trustees, to be held till the elder of his two boys shall come of age, and shall make his choice between the Stirling estate of Keir-cum-Cadder and the Maxwell estate of Pollok. (9)

The Keir family has furnished many worthy gentlemen, but not many men of mark. We can only name these four:-

James Stirling, “the Venetian,” a great mathematician, a friend of Newton’s, and founder of the very curious and little known system of Tenant Right at Leadhills : (10)

Edward Sterling, the famous “Thunderer” of the “Times” :

John Sterling, his son, the subject of rival biographies by Hare and Carlyle :

And the late Sir William Stirling-Maxwell. The foremost of them all, and yet he disappointed us. From whatever cause, he never did what he showed he could have done. Those who saw his capacity for the conduct of affairs, his good sense, his fairness, his rare power of winning respect even from opponents, regretted that he did not make politics the serious business of his life. Those who, from the few works that were his occasional amusement, knew what learning, what power, what grace of style he had at command, would have been better pleased if the broad lands of poor Janet had not made him so independent of his pen.

(1) It is a curious fact that the name of Stirling is written in no less than sixty-four different ways.

(2) The lady of Mr. Charles Stirling was grand-daughter of the well-known John Erskine, author of “Institutes of the Laws of Scotland.” Indeed, Erskine himself was married to one of the ladies of the Stirling family of Cadder and Keir.

(3) The Archbishop of Glasgow (James Beaton) had 2500 merks for assigning his share of the wardship, as superior of the lands of Cadder proper. The worthy churchman had only 1000 merks “in rady usuale money of Scotland in hand,” and for the balance had to take a wadset of “the landis of Strowe and Balcarrus with thar pertinence.”

(4) Janet’s troubles did not end with her abdication of Cadder. She married Bischop, and was a faithful wife to him, which was more than he deserved. The man (whose strange after-career does not concern us) had been put to the horn, and was now furth of the realme. But his wife, at least, would serve him, love honour and keep him; and, for this offence (it may have offended Darnley’s wife) Queen Mary, in 1551, granted “to Mattho Hamilton of Mylburn, and his airis and assignais, ye escheit of all gudis, soumes of money, actis, contractis, jowellis, gold, silver, cunyit and uncunyit, quhilk is partenit to [Janet] Striveling, sum tyme Lady Caldoure, and now ye spous of Thomas Bischop, and now partening to our Soveraine Lady, through being of the said [Janet] past in ye realme of Ingland, and yair remaining wyt ye said Thomas, hir spous, rebell and traitour to our Soveraine Lady, helping and supporting him.” And so “Lady Caldoure,” for being a faithful wife, was stripped of the poor remains of her fortune. It is pleasanter to find that Bischop was not left to enjoy the wages of iniquity. Whether or no Keir had had any hand in the horning, he profited by it and by Bischop’s being furth of the realm. He, the granter of the deed of 23rd February 1542, raised an action against Bischop as “pretendit heritable possessor of the lands of Uchiltree,” and he gained it. And so the Keir victory was complete : the one bit that had had to be yielded was recovered : Bessarabia was revindicated. It needed a long spoon to sup with the Keirs.

(5) In “The Stirlings of Keir” the Conveyance by Janet to James Stirling is dated December 1541, and he is therein designed her husband : the Divorce, which, of course, must have been after this Conveyance, is given as in January 1541 : and the Obligation by James Stirling to Thomas Bischop (which implies both Conveyance and Divorce) is said to have been in the following month. There is evidently some confusion here. Either the Conveyance was in 1540, or the Divorce and Obligation were in 1542. The latter is probably the truth.

(6) James Stirling married the year afterwards, and his wife was a daughter of the Bishop of Dunblane.

(7) It is some satisfaction to know that Sir John did not live to see the success of his Cadder scheme. He made a speciality of child-stripping. Among others he “ripit” were the children of Buchanan of Leny, after clearing the ground by the murder of their father. Shaw of Cambusmore was his helper in this matter; and Shaw, goaded by the widow’s reproaches into a fit of compunction, murdered him in 1539. At this date the Lords of Council had declared all alienations by Janet to be null, and it seemed more likely that the plot would be the ruin than the making of the Keirs.

(8) By a rule of law the children of such a marriage were legitimate, unless it appeared that both parents had, from the first, known that it was void.

(9) By a similar arrangement the elder of Sir William’s cousins-german (and next heirs failing his own boys) Stirling-Crawford, took Milton, and devolved Castlemilk on his half-brother Stirling-Stuart.

(10) Under the Company’s Lease from Lord Hopeton each miner has a right to ground for a “house and yard” rent free. This has come to imply as much ground as the man and his family can cultivate. The miners build their own houses, and these and the ground attached, they or their families have a right to sell, but only to miners. The result has been that Leadhills, the highest village in Scotland, is a green bien settlement in the middle of a waste, and is inhabited by a sober, industrious, and comfortable race. A somewhat similar system exists at Wanlockhead, close by, on the Duke of Buccleuch’s estate.

Source: “The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry” published in 1870 by James MacLehose & Sons

The Estate of Northwoodside

Originally posted November 20, 2004  The estate of Northwoodside is situated on the left bank of the Kelvin, near the point where the bridge recently completed spans that picturesque stream, at the new district named Great Western Park. As far back as 1693 this estate belonged to Robert Campbell, merchant in Glasgow, and twice Dean of Guild, viz., in 1679 and 1687. He was the second son of Colin Campbell, the first of Blythswood, and purchased Northwoodside in fulfilment of certain stipulations in the contract of marriage with his second wife, who was the eldest daughter of the first James Dunlop of Garnkirk. Mr. Campbell died in 1694, and was succeeded in this estate by his only child of the above marriage, Janet Campbell, who became the wife of Thomas Haliburton, Advocate, of Dryburgh Abbey and New Mains in Berwickshire. (1) By their marriage settlement in 1701 Northwoodside was conveyed to Mr. Haliburton in consideration of the provisions made by him to the lady over his own estates in the south.

Subsequently Northwoodside was acquired by Archibald Stirling of Keir, and still later by James Lapsley, a retired West India merchant, resident in the then fashionable Stockwell. (2)

Mr. Stirling feued portions of the estate to various parties, whom it would be tedious to particularize. (3) His feus were given off between the years 1765 and 1778. Mr. Lapsley followed his example, and in this way Northwoodside estate was split into sections, and has continued so to some extent ever since. One of these early feuars, a merchant in Glasgow, built the house of Northwoodside, a plain family mansion something in the manse style, on a small wooded terrace overlooking the Kelvin.

About the year 1790 most of these early Northwoodside feus became centred by purchase in the person of William Gillespie, calico printer in Anderston and cotton spinner at Mid Woodside. He was among the very first to establish these branches of business in this district. His print-works stood in the angle of what are now William Street and North Street. The cotton mill was situated at the junction of the Pinkston Burn with the Kelvin, on the west side of the recently formed Park Road, about opposite the English Episcopal Chapel of St. Silas. A mill of later date occupies at the present day nearly the site of Mr. Gillespie’s old one.

The print-works in Anderston were popularly known as “Gillespie’s Field,” and elderly citizens will no doubt well remember “Gillespie’s Ponds” connected with the works, long famous for skating. (4)

Mr. Gillespie’s house is still standing, almost unknown, on the west side of what is now North Street, just below William Street. In the olden time North Street was popularly called “the Long Road,” and was skirted on both sides by rows of lime trees. The house was named Wellfield. It was embosomed in silver birches, and had a fine garden, and one of the earliest vineries set up in these parts. Several of the adjacent modern streets run through what was Mr. Gillespie’s property, and William Street and Richard Street are named after himself and his son. He was also owner of the fine estate of Bishopton, now part of Lord Blantyre’s domain; the picturesque old mansion stands on a knoll just at the west mouth of the tunnel on the Greenock line, and has some very fine trees about it, notably a magnificent sycamore.

His three sons, James, (5) Richard, and Colin, were, like their father, well known merchants and proprietors. The last was an eminent American merchant, and in 1802 his father conveyed to him the portions of Northwoodside estate already referred to. Mr Colin Gillespie added considerably to these by acquiring adjacent lots and greatly improved and ornamented the whole. The quaint old family house of Thomas Haliburton’s time was rather inconveniently situated in connection with the rest of the grounds. The parish road to Garrioch, dividing the property in two, passed close at the back of the house, which faced south. Mr. Colin Gillespie enlarged and improved the interesting old edifice, formed fine gardens, surrounded by walls on the north or opposite side of the Garrioch road, and connected these with the back part of the house by a handsome ornamental iron bridge. The photograph represents the house thus altered. In other respects Mr. Gillespie laid out the grounds with much taste, the whole forming, during many years, one of the most charming country retreats around Glasgow. It was approached by roughish round-about parish roads, which tended to secure privacy to this romantic place, and which may at the same time have explained Mr. Gillespie’s having winter quarters in Garthland Street.

After being the property of Mr. Colin Gillespie about twenty years, the house and grounds were sold to Mr. John Thomson, cashier of the Royal Bank, Glasgow. (6) This was in 1822. He resided there till he was appointed manager of that bank in Edinburgh. In 1828 he parted with the property to Mr. Henry Paul, accountant in Glasgow. He was brother of Mr. Robert Paul, secretary, afterwards manager, of the Commercial Bank, Edinburgh, and he came from the latter city to practise in Glasgow about 1820. Latterly, Mr. Henry Paul relinquished the profession of accountant, and became the first manager of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1839.

In 1845 Mr. Paul sold the Northwoodside House and grounds to Mr. John Bain of Morriston, near Cambuslang. Lastly, this well known gentleman conveyed the property to the City of Glasgow Bank.

The bank has laid off these beautiful grounds for the erection of a new suburb. With this view the mansion house was removed in 1869, after having existed about a century, and a handsome stone bridge was constructed by the bank over the Kelvin, connecting Northwoodside with their property on the right bank of the river, and affording to the new suburb direct access from the Great Western Road. The north abutment of this new bridge occupies nearly the site of old Northwoodside House.


It is unfortunate that neither “Northpark” nor “Woodside” were included in the first edition of this book. Now their portraits can no longer be taken, for they are both numbered “with the things that were.” They were interesting old places, both possessed by an old race of Hamiltons, merchants of the highest standing, commercially and socially, and active public spirited citizens, and no history of the “Old Glasgow Gentry” is at all complete without some notice of them.

Northpark, when acquired by Provost Hamilton, about the beginning of the present century, was a beautiful retired spot. It stood immediately behind what is now Buckingham Terrace, facing towards the north and commanding fine views of the Campsie Hills and the beautiful woods of Kelvinside. At some distance below it ran the clear silvery Kelvin. Before the Great Western Road was made, the approach from Glasgow was by the Dumbarton Road to Partick, and thence by the Byres Road, or from the other side of the Kelvin by a private bridge at the old Northwoodside Corn Mills.

Woodside was also situated on the Kelvin immediately below the Northwoodside House and, when purchased in 1817 by Mr. Archibald Hamilton was a quiet country residence, far from the noise and turmoil of Glasgow. The house was three storied, castellated at the top, and with wings at the sides. It stood end on to the river.

Before Mr. Hamilton bought it, Woodside was the summer quarters of Alexander Munro, an American merchant, whose town house was in “Munro’s Close,” Stockwell, and it was here that his son, afterwards Sir Thomas Munro, Governor of Madras, and one of the most distinguished Indian officers and administrators, was born.

When a boy, Thomas Munro was in the same class in the Grammar School with John Moore, afterwards Sir John, who was born in Donald’s Land, in the Trongate; the former was known among his companions, from his courage and pugilistic skill, by the sobriquet of “Millie Munro.”

Woodside was a great favourite of the future hero. His biographer relates, that when he returned from India in 1808 after an absence of twenty-seven years, high in military rank, for a short respite from duty, among the first things he did on reaching Glasgow, was to re-visit the scenes of his youth in the Stockwell, all the “jinking closes” in which remained fresh in his memory. He also went out to Woodside, where he lingered a whole day among the beautiful old trees of the place, and other well remembered points of youthful attraction; bathed once more in Jackson’s old mill dams, and climbed an aged gnarled geen tree of great size, which he recognized as one among whose branches he used to con over his books when an early student. What a change, even then, he must have observed in Glasgow itself, from the time he left the counting house of Somervell & Gordon, and sailed for India as a cadet in 1779, when the Merchants’ House, and centre of business, were in the Bridgegate, and the Stockwell was the furthest west street in the city, except Virginia and Miller Streets, then only partially built!

The proprietor of Woodside immediately before Mr. Hamilton was Mr. Benjamin Barton, Commissary Clerk of Glasgow, and, when it was sold in 1839, the late Mr. Rowan of Linthouse was the purchaser. (7)

The Glasgow Hamiltons are descended from David Hamilton of Elrick, second son of James Hamilton of Westport. The Westport Hamiltons are a branch of the Hamiltons of Silvertonhill, who are very early cadets of the head of the house of Hamilton.

I. – DAVID HAMILTON of Elrick, married Marian Home, by whom he had – 1) James, of whom presently; 2) John, who his brother; 3) Janet.

II. – JAMES HAMILTON of Elrick, retoured heir to David his father in 1630, died without issue, and was succeeded by his brother.

II. – JOHN HAMILTON of Elrick, who had a son,

III. – THE REVEREND JOHN HAMILTON, admitted minister of Carmichael in 1650. On Episcopacy being established in Scotland he declined to conform, and was supplanted by a curate appointed by the Archbishop of Glasgow. By 1672 he had rather modified his views, and being indulged by the Privy Council he returned to the parish.

He was an excellent but rather self-willed divine. By his wife, a daughter of Ferguson of Caitloch in Galloway, he had a son,

IV. – THE REVEREND JOHN HAMILTON, D.D., minister of the College Church, Glasgow, who married Margaret, daughter of William Ballantine of Castlehill, Ayrshire. He was born about 1670, and died about 1735 : he had issue – 1) John (the Reverend), of whom presently; 2) Agnes (Mrs. Wardrop); 3) Grizel, died unmarried.

V. – THE REVEREND JOHN HAMILTON, D.D., born about 1713, died 1780, minister of the High Church of Glasgow; he married Mary, daughter of John Bogle of Hamilton Farm (see Daldowie). Like his reverend father and his own descendants, he was a public spirited man, and took much interest in the education of the rising generation. He was Moderator of the General Assembly in 1766. He had – (I.) John of Northpark, of whom presently. (II.) George, merchant in Glasgow, married first Agnes, daughter of Archibald Bogle, a younger son of Robert Bogle of Shettleston: she died without issue. Married secondly in 1792, Margaret, daughter of George Bogle, merchant in Glasgow, another younger son of Robert Bogle of Shettleston, and had a son, John George Hamilton, merchant in Glasgow, who married, first, Christina, daughter of Henry Monteith of Carstairs, Lord Provost of Glasgow, and had issue, Christian Monteith Hamilton, Lieutenant-Colonel 92nd Regiment, who married Corrinna, daughter of Viscount Gort, and has two sons, Ian, 92nd Regiment, and Veriker. Mr. John George Hamilton married secondly in 1827, Helen, daughter of John Hamilton of Northpark, and had issue; George married Anne, daughter of General Shaw, and has issue; John, married Gertrude Ainsworth, and has issue – the Rev. Henry Monteith, minister of Hamilton, married Margaret Ker, daughter of Robert Ker of Dougalston, and Archibald, married his cousin, Janet Colina, daughter of William Hamilton of Northpark; Helen Bogle married Colin R. Dunlop of Quarter; Margaret Elizabeth, married Douglas Alston, and has issue: Janet Camilla, unmarried. (III.) Patrick, died unmarried. (IV.) William, died unmarried. (I.) Janet, died young. (II.) Margaret, died young. (III.) Mary, died young.

VI. – JOHN HAMILTON of Northpark, born 1754, died 1829, was a merchant in Glasgow, and was thrice Lord Provost. He married Helen, daughter of Archibald Bogle, a younger son of Robert Bogle of Shettleston. He was a most valuable citizen of Glasgow, and merited, and obtained the respect and affection of its inhabitants. When the new entrance to the city from the east was formed, it was called after him “Great Hamilton” Street. He had issue: (I.) John, who died in Jamaica; (II.) Archibald, of whom presently; (III.) George William, merchant in Jamaica, died in 1858; (IV.) Robert, merchant in Jamaica, died in London in 1840; (V.) William of Northpark, Lord Provost in 1826, a captain in the Glasgow Sharpshooters, and in all respects a thoroughly good man, and citizen. He married in 1826 Mary Orton Lucas. He died in 1866 and she followed in 1875. They had issue. 1) John William, born 1827, married Constance Dennistoun, daughter of John Dennistoun, formerly M.P. for Glasgow, and had issue two daughters. He died in 1866; 2) Mary Anne, married to John Patrick Alston of Muirburn (see Craighead) and has issue; 3) Helen Cathcart, married George Smith, who died in China in 1859; 4) Eliza Lucas, married in 1868 her cousin, George William Hamilton (see below); 5) Janet Colina, married her cousin Archibald Hamilton, son of John George Hamilton; 6) Mary Louisa, married John Hayes, R.N., son of Admiral Hayes; (VI.) Cathcart, died young; (VII.) Hugh, died young; (VIII.) Andrew, died young; (I.) Janet, died young; (II.) Janet Miller, married Colin Campbell of John Campbell, Sen. & Co., and afterwards of Colgrain, and had issue, ten sons and five daughters; (III.) Mary, married 1829 the Rev. D. Welsh, D.D., and had issue; (IV) Helen, married her cousin John George Hamilton (see above).

VII. – ARCHIBALD HAMILTON of Woodside, born 1784, died 1860, married in 1812 Margaret Bogle, eldest daughter of William Bogle, Postmaster of Glasgow, the head of the old Glasgow family of Bogle of Shettleston (see Daldowie, Shettleston Branch), and had – 1) John, died at Calcutta, 1848. By his wife, Eliza Bruce, who died in 1856, he had one daughter, Matilda Agnes: she married M. J. Scobie, 42nd Regiment; 2) William, died unmarried in Australia in 1863; 3) George William, of whom presently; 4) Matilda, died unmarried in 1860; 5) Helen Bogle, married Colin D. Donald, and had issue; she died in 1877; 6) Mary Margaret, married George Middleton, merchant, Glasgow, who died in 1863, leaving two sons both in the army, William George, and John Archibald, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Graham Somervell of Sorn. Archibald Hamilton of Woodside died in 1860, aged 76 years.

VIII. – GEORGE WILLIAM HAMILTON, who is the male representative of the old Hamiltons of Westport (8) and head of the Glasgow Hamiltons, and representative of the Bogles of Shettleston, married in 1868 his cousin, Eliza Lucas Hamilton, daughter of William Hamilton of Northpark, and has issue, two daughters, Maud Mary, and Amy Helen.

(1) This lady was also heiress of her father in the lands of Hillhead, Byres of Partick, Keppoch, and other properties. Her curators were, her mother, and her uncles, James Dunlop, junr. of Garnkirk; William Dunlop, merchant, Glasgow; and Archibald Roberton of Bedlay.

By a double descent from the Blythswood Campbells a stream of good old Glasgow blood flowed in the veins of Sir Walter Scott. Walter Scott (Beardie), his great-grandfather, married a daughter of Robert Campbell of Silvercraigs, son of another Robert of Silvercraigs, who, with his brother Colin of Blythswood, were sons of Colin Campbell of Elie, Provost in 1636. Beardie and his wife had a son, Robert Scott, who married Barbara Haliburton, daughter of Janet Campbell and Thomas Haliburton. One of their sons was Walter Scott, W.S., who was the father of Sir Walter. Silvercraigs’ daughter and Janet Campbell were thus both great-grandmothers of the author of “Waverley.”

(2) Northwoodside is advertised in the Glasgow Mercury of 12th Feb. 1777 as “pleasantly situated upon the River Kelvin, within two miles of the Town of Glasgow.”

(3) One of these early feuars was David Jackson, a miller. The Northwoodside flour-mills were long famous, while the mill-dams were favourite resorts of juvenile swimmers. The Kelvin, then a limpid trouting stream, free from the impurities which have now so much altered its character, flowed past the miller’s old-fashioned abode between prettily-wooded banks, the green shadows from which on the water were often enlivened by groups of snow-white ducks from the miller’s well-stocked poultry yard.

(4) The precise locality of these favourite old skating ponds is worth preserving. There were two, one on each side of the “Long Road,” a little way north from the point where North Street joins West St. Vincent Street. These ponds were fed by the overflow from the Great Canal, which was conducted to them by a long conduit, partly open and partly tunnelled. This conduit left the canal near Sawmillfield, ran through the west end of Cowcaddens and along the line of what is now St. George’s Road, and by a tunnel under Woodlands Road entered Southwoodside, then belonging to the Gillespies. It ran in a deep trench through “Gillespie’s Planting” (which grew behind modern Woodside Crescent) into a deep pond, formerly an old quarry, and full of fish. This was where the Grand Hotel now stands, and beside it, about where the Oswald statue used to stand, was the house of Mr. Gillespie’s gardener. By another tunnel a little west of modern Charing Cross, the water was carried under “Saughiehall Road,” and finally made its way to the ponds along Provost Mills’ property of Sandyford.

The writer of this has a vivid recollection of the skating amusement on “Gillespie’s Ponds” on the Saturdays with Mr. James Gillespie’s sons, William and Robert, who kindly invited groups of their school companions out to Anderston on this weekly holiday to matches on the ice. When the too short winter day ended, the juvenile skaters made a rush back to town along “Anderston Walk” through the pitchy darkness, there having been then very few houses between Anderston Village and Jamaica Street, where the first glimmer of the street oil-lamps, projecting from the houses, became visible. The “Walk” had a foot-path laid in some places with coarse gravel and “danders,” and was partially skirted by old skranky hedges abundant in “slaps.” To venture homewards in the dark by “Saughiehall Road” was out of the question. It was far more dreary than Anderston Walk – in fact a mere country road uncausewayed, and requiring daylight to avoid the deep cart-ruts and sloughs in many places at the hedges. What a change on all this now!

(5) Mr. James Gillespie was a manufacturer in Anderston, and lived at Finnieston House, a quaint old edifice now occupied as contractors’ offices for the Stobcross Docks. Mr. Richard Gillespie had “Gillespie’s Field” and “Gillespie’s Ponds,” and lived at Wellfield, and afterwards at Southwoodside, where now stand Woodside Crescent, Terrace, and Place, Newton Place, Lynedoch Crescent, &c. He was the father of William Honeyman Gillespie, proprietor of Torbanehill, famous for the “Torbanehill Mineral.” Mr. William Gillespie’s eldest daughter, Ann Gillespie, married the Rev. John Mitchell, D.D., long minister of the Secession Church in Cheapside, Anderston (now in Wellington Street), and was the mother of a numerous family, of whom Dr. James Mitchell, late Dean of Faculty, and other sons, are still among us. Another daughter, Mary, was wife of the late John Schank More, Advocate, Professor of Scotch Law in the University of Edinburgh.

(6) Mr. Thomson came to take charge of the Royal Bank’s branch in Glasgow in 1816, in room of Mr. John More, who had succeeded to David Dale. The office was then in the south-east corner of St. Andrew Square: two large slabs in the pavement mark to this day where two sentry-boxes stood guard over the Bank. Mr. Thomson had previously been for ten years agent for the Bank of Scotland at Aberdeen. In 1827 he was appointed to Edinburgh, and finally his connection with the Royal Bank terminated on 24th January 1845. He died 7th March 1850.

(7) Woodside was part of a considerable estate which belonged to John Campbell, third son of Colin Campbell, first of Blythswood, and brother of Robert Campbell of Northwoodside. What is now the high ground of the West End Park formed part of it, before what afterwards made up a portion of the estate of Kelvingrove was feued off it. It extended eastward to Garnet Hill, and the district about Woodlands Road was included in it to the north. The Woodside district is still the best part of Glasgow, and Park Terrace, Park Gardens, and the other magnificent Terraces, Crescents, Quadrants, Gardens, &c., on Woodside Hill are as fine specimens of town houses as the United Kingdom can produce. Woodside Terrace and Crescent keep alive in modern times the memory of this picturesque old estate. Like Northwoodside it was gradually feued off, and by the beginning of the present century the Woodside of the Munroes and the Hamiltons was all that was left of it.

John Campbell of Woodside early in last century was the husband of Mary Douglas, the heiress of Mains. His eldest son Colin (through his marriage to his cousin Mary, daughter and heiress of Colin second of Blythswood) was the father of James Campbell of Woodside and Blythswood, and his second son James became Douglas of Mains – the Blythswood family seemed to have a difficulty in producing heirs for their fine estate, and twice the Douglases, nothing loath, have left their old place of Mains, and, taking the name of their relatives, have kept alive the famous old Glasgow family of Campbell of Blythswood. The rather complicated history of the Mains and Blythswood families is treated of under “Mains” in another part of this book.

(8) The Hamiltons of Westport in the male line terminated with James sixth of Westport. His daughter Anna married in 1674 Walter Sandilands. The Sandilands-Hamiltons in their turn came to a close in the male line in two generations in 1762 : and again the line of Westport was carried on through a female, Grizel Sandilands-Hamilton, the heiress of her brothers. She married John Ferrier of Kirkland, and they are the ancestors of the present Ferrier Hamiltons.

George William Hamilton is the direct male representative of David Hamilton, second son of James Hamilton of Westport (living circa 1578), and thus, heirs male in the Westport family having failed, the male representative of Westport, one of the oldest branches of the House of Hamilton.

Source: “The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry” published in 1870 by James MacLehose & Sons

North Woodside Flint Mill

This mill was built in 1765 by Archibald Stirling of Kier and was originally used as a barley mill and to grind gunpower during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1846 it was converted into a flint mill. Flint is a hard silicate rock with a glassy appearance which is found in chalk and limestone. It is not common in Scotland and had to be imported.

Remains of North Woodside Flint Mill
Remains of North Woodside Flint Mill
Remains of North Woodside Flint Mill

Flint was used in the pottery industry to lighten the colour of clay, to harden it and to make hard glaze. Flint and glaze were taken by rail to Kelvinbridge Station and then transported by horse-drawn wagons to the mill.

The Stirling Estate at Kemure

Kenmure House - Stirlings of Keir

Originally posted November 20, 2004 The property of Sir William Stirling Maxwell, Bart., is situated in the Barony parish and county of Lanark, and is about four miles from Glasgow.

The present house was built by Charles Stirling, who was the fourth son of William Stirling of Keir and Cadder, and who was born in 1771.

Charles Stirling, like his father and grandfather, was a West India merchant, and a partner in the great house of Somervell, Gordon & Co., of Glasgow, in the management of which he took an active part. In 1806 he purchased the lands of Kenmure, and built thereon, from the plans of the well known David Hamilton, what now forms the greater part of the present mansion. He resided there till 1816, when he sold the estate for £40,000 to his elder brother Archibald, afterwards of Keir. He obtained a life rent of Cadder, and resided there till his death in 1830.

Archibald Stirling, who purchased Kenmure from his brother Charles, was also a West India merchant in Glasgow. He was born in 1769, and on the death of his brother James, in 1831, succeeded to the estates of Keir and Cadder. He married in 1815 Elizabeth, second daughter of Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, Bart., and resided at Kenmure till her death in 1822. By her he had two daughters, who died unmarried, and one son, William. In 1831, he succeeded his brother James in the family estates, and resided at Keir till his death in 1847. The estates then passed to his son, the present proprietor.

Sir William Stirling Maxwell of Keir and Pollok, Bart., was born at Kenmure in 1818; on the death of the late Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, Bart., he succeeded through his mother to his estate and title.

After Archibald Stirling succeeded to Keir, he never lived at Kenmure, and the late William Stirling, of Stirling Gordon & Co., (to which style the firm had been changed from Somervell Gordon & Co.), obtained it for a residence.

William Stirling (1) was the second son of John Stirling of Kippendavie, which family is an early branch of Keir. He was a man universally respected and beloved, and his memory will long be cherished by those who knew him. He died in 1862, and Kenmure is no longer occupied by members of the Stirling family. (2)


Kenmure is now vested in the Trustees of the late Sir William Stirling Maxwell.

The account given above of the connection of the Stirlings with the West Indies is not quite correct, and it may be worth while to trace how two Perthshire county families came to be mixed up with business in Glasgow.

William Stirling of Keir and Cadder, Charles Stirling’s grandfather, devoted his energies to less profitable work than sugar. He was an incurable Jacobite. He was tried for high treason in 1708, and escaped with difficulty. He was out in the ’15, attainted, and forfeited. He was again in trouble in 1727. Finally, in the ’45, with his son Hugh and his kinsman Craigbarnet, he was imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle, and only released in 1747 to die. He had other troubles besides these personal sufferings. His wife, Marione Stewart, daughter of Alexander Lord Blantyre, proved a terribly fertile vine, and before his twenty-sixth wedding day, twenty-two olive branches, fifteen sons and seven daughters, were set round the poor broken man’s scanty table. It is true the forfeited lands were bought in by friends and reconveyed to John, the eldest of the fifteen sons. But the rental was then only £795, and the fourteen younger brothers had to shift for themselves. They did their best. All those we can trace set to pushing their way abroad. Several of them went to Jamaica, (3) and there they were joined by their far-off cousins, (4) Patrick and John Stirling of Kippendavie. Both sets of Stirlings throve, and they formed a West Indian connection which to this day is to some extent kept up.

The acquisitions of the young Keirs centred in their brother Archibald, who had meantime won a fair fortune for himself in Calcutta, (5) and who in 1757 succeeded to Keir. In 1783, under Archibald’s settlements, his brother William, the twelfth, and the next surviving of the fifteen brothers, (6) succeeded to Keir, and William’s second son John, to the valuable Jamaica estates of Frontier and Hampden. John Stirling and his next younger brother Archibald went to Jamaica in 1789. John died there, at Hampden, in 1793. Archibald, afterwards of Keir, succeeded him, and for nearly twenty years he resided in Jamaica in the active management of the estates. He never was, properly speaking, a merchant. But Charles Stirling, his next younger brother, had one-thirteenth share in the great Glasgow house of Somervell Gordon & Co., agents for the Stirling and many other West Indian estates, and was an active man of business. He was the last merchant of his family, and the West Indian connection of the Keirs, which brought such wealth to them, has now wholly ceased. (7)

Now for the Kippendavie connection, which still exists. When Patrick and John Stirling of Kippendavie joined their Keir cousins in Jamaica, Patrick, a lad of nineteen, was actual owner of the family property. But Kippendavie probably yielded even a slenderer income than Keir cum Cadder, and the profits of sugar might well tempt the laird with the hope of coming home some day to raise the family to wealth and consideration. This hope was realised, but not by Patrick. He had a Crown Grant of lands, which he developed into the fine sugar estate of Content; he lived on in Jamaica in management of the property; and there he was cut off in 1775. He lies in a mausoleum beside his residence at Content. His younger brother John succeeded to both Kippendavie and Content. He brought home a large fortune, was senior partner in the Glasgow firm (now become Stirling Gordon & Co.), bought from the Pearsons the fine estate of Kippenross, and lived there in good style. His grandson, John Stirling, the able Chairman of the North British Railway (who is connected with the West Indies through both his mother and his wife), succeeded to Kippendavie and Kippenross. His sons, William and Charles (of Gargunnock), both men well known and well-respected here, succeeded to Content and to shares in Stirling Gordon & Co.

This famous old firm was founded about the middle of last century by James Somervell of Hamilton Farm and Provost Arthur Connell, under the title of Somervell Connell & Co. In 1780 it became Somervell Gordon & Co., and in 1795 Stirling Gordon & Co. The partners then were John Stirling of Kippendavie, John Gordon (Aikenhead), and his brother Alexander (“picture Gordon”), Charles Stirling (Cadder), James Fyffe, Neil Malcolm of Poltalloch, David Russell, and James Murdoch Wallace, son of John Wallace of Kelly. Later partners were William and Charles Stirling (Kippendavie), William Leckie Ewing of Arngomery, Graham Russell (David Russell’s grandson), and William Stirling, jun. (William Stirling’s son). Latterly, Graham Russell (now Graham Somervell of Hamilton Farm and Sorn Castle, Ayrshire), and William Stirling, jun. (now William Stirling of Tarduf) were left alone. (8) Then William Stirling was sole partner. And in 1864 Stirling Gordon & Co. ceased to exist. Mr. William Stirling’s eldest son John, and his son John Henry Stirling, have, however, taken up some part of the old business under the firm of Stirling & Co. And Content, a good estate to this day, is the property of William Stirling of Tarduf, and the title deeds, beginning with the Crown Grant, have no name in them but Stirling.

(1) Mr. Stirling used to relate an interesting incident in connection with their house, Somervell Gordon & Co. Many years ago there were in the counting-house in Miller Street, at one and the same time, three young men, sons of gentlemen, sent there to acquire some knowledge of commercial pursuits. They all used to sit at the same desk; but after a time they all abandoned mercantile life and went into the army – first one, then another, and at last the third. They saw nothing of each other until very many years afterwards, when they all met at the siege of Seringapatam – and they met then as officers high in rank, all engaged in the reduction of that city, – they were General Sir Thomas Munro, James Dunlop, and William Wallace.

(2) By his first wife, Elizabeth Barret Barret (cousin of Mrs. Elizabeth Barret Browning), he had three sons: John Stirling merchant in Glasgow; Henry Stirling, died young; and William Stirling, jun., merchant in Glasgow; and three daughters: Mary (Mrs. Graham Stirling of Strowan); Elizabeth (died unmarried); and Henrietta Jane (Mrs. Graham Somervell of Sorn). By his second wife, Olivia Salmond, he had three sons, who all died young, and five daughters: Olivia Catherine (died 1851); Anna Christian (married to Colonel William Stirling, R.H.A., son of Charles Stirling of Muiravonside); Amy Caroline; Margaret Sandilands (married to James Stewart of Garvocks, M.P. for Greenock); and Williamina Mary.

(3) The young Keirs may have fixed on Jamaica from their having a cousin already settled there in trade – one of the Stirlings of Garden, brother to “the Venetian” and himself known in the family as “the Merchant.” Another cousin, one of the Ardoch Stirlings, also settled in Jamaica. Both these “cousins” were “Charles,” not a common name in Scotland, but as regular in the Stirling family as Archibald in the Campbells or Sholto in the Douglasses. Keir and Kippendavie and Garden and Ardoch and Glorat and the Drumpellier and the Glasgow Stirlings all have it.

(4) As the Kippendavies branched off from the Keirs in the sixteenth century, the “cousinship” was remote enough. But folks counted kith then in a way unknown nowadays. In the Keir entail of 1771 Patrick Stirling, then of Kippendavie, and his brother are named among the heirs, and a close connection was kept up between the two families.

(5) The Keir book makes out Archibald to have been a Jamaica merchant. But the letters it gives show that it was in the East Indies that he pushed his fortunes.

(6) It is curious that the only male descendants of the fifteen sons of Jacobite James should have been the late Sir William Stirling Maxwell and his two cousins, William Stuart Stirling, now Stirling-Crawford of Milton (who has no children), and James Stirling Stirling, now Stirling-Stuart of Castlemilk.

(7) The late Archibald Stirling of Keir sold Frontier to Mr. Leckie Ewing for about £8000, and his son sold Hampden, the last of their West Indian properties, for £2000. Frontier turned out a very bad bargain, and is now the property of a negro, who has turned it mostly into a cocoa nut plantation. Hampden is still a sugar estate, and has so far done well.

(8) It is curious that of the last two partners of Stirling Gordon & Co., Graham Somervell is heir to James Somervell, and William Stirling is married to the great-granddaughter of Arthur Connell, the first two partners of the original firm of Somervell Connell & Co.

Source: “The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry” published in 1870 by James MacLehose & Sons