NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY
It is probable that the building of the Castle of Saddell, on the shore and about half a mile from the Abbey, was begun soon after the grant on January 1st 1507/8 of a Charter by James IV in favour of the Bishop of Argyll erecting the old lands pertaining to Saddell Abbey into a Barony and giving all the powers of a feudal Baron to the Bishop. It may be inferred from the fact that a Petition, dated 22nd April 1512, from King James IV to Pope Julius II, proposed the transfer of the bishopric from the island of Lismore to Saddell, and the erection of a new Cathedral at Saddell, that the Castle had been completed by that time and was then in a condition for occupation as a Bishop's residence. It may well be that King James' letter never reached Pope Julius, for it is now found in the State Papers among the letters of King Henry VIII, which at least suggests the possibility of its having been intercepted on its way to Rome. At any rate, the transfer of the bishopric did not take place, the new Cathedral was never built, and the death of King James IV at the battle of Flodden on the 9th September, 1513, leaving a son and heir of one year of age, no doubt brought any further negotiations to an untimely end. However this may be, it is probable that the Bishop, David Hamilton, took up residence in the new Castle of Saddell, if for no other reason than to be near his family relations, the Earls of Arran, and their possessions just across the waters of Kilbrannan Sound.
No records of the fate and fortune of Saddell appear to exist for the period from 1512 to 1556, but in that latter year the Clan Donald, deriving from Donald the grandson of Somerled, makes a surprising and dramatic appearance upon the scene. The last Lord of the Isles and head of the Clan Donald, John of Islay, had been forfeited by King James III in 1475; he had been later partially restored to grace and possession, but was finally forfeited by King James IV in 1493. This John of Islay died at Dundee in 1503 and the title "Lord of the Isles" died with him. All this not withstanding, it is evident that the family of the Lords of the Isles contrived to remain territorial magnates of rank and importance. In 1556 Bishop James Hamilton, half-brother of the Earl of Arran and Duke of Chatelherault, in return for money advanced to him by the Earl and for crown taxes, conveyed the whole estate of Saddell to the Earl for a payment of 48 merks, 13 shillings, four pence, per annum, the estate lands amounting to 48 merklands of old extent. It was following the above transaction that the Clan Donald re-entered into Kintyre history. James MacDonald of Dun Naomhaig (Dunniveg) in Islay held also certain lands in Arran. An excambion was arranged between him and the Earl of Arran, by which he surrendered his Arran lands and received in return the whole lands of Saddell, on condition that he paid the feudal dues, assisted in the uplifting of rents and teinds in Kintyre, refrained from any interference in the affairs of Arran, and granted the full hospitality of the house of Saddell to the Earl, the Bishop, and his successors, whenever they should be in Kintyre and require the same. By this double transfer of the estate, first by Bishop James Hamilton to the Earl of Arran and then by the Earl to James MacDonald, Saddell became a secular barony and lost its ecclesiastical status.
James MacDonald was not long left to enjoy the peace of his new possession, for in 1558, only two years after his entry into Saddell, there took place the raid of Thomas Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex, Lord Deputy of Ireland under Mary Tudor of England. The story of this invasion can be gathered only from the Calendar of State Papers of Ireland containing the reports sent by Sussex to the Privy Council and Queen in London. The circumstances of the raid were these. England and Spain were in alliance against France; Scotland and France were in alliance against England and Spain. It does not appear that James MacDonald had any part in this continental conflict, but he was taking a very active part in the troubles in Ireland against the English. The Tudor reconquest of Ireland, as it was called, was in full course. It had begun under Henry VIII, continued under Edward IV, Mary I and Elizabeth I, and was not complete until the battle of Kinsale, 1601. The impact of this upon Kintyre seems never to have received more than cursory mention from writers of local history, so it may be well to tell the story so far as it can be gathered from the State Papers of Ireland.
On May 31st 1558 Lord Deputy Sussex wrote from Kilmainham, Dublin, to the Privy Council in London, stating that James MacDonnell had landed in the North of Ireland with a band of his followers and two pieces of ordnance, and that he had taken measures to counteract him by putting a force of fifty good soldiers into Knocfergus. On June 3rd he wrote again to Secretary Boxoll reporting that James MacConnell had returned into Scotland with his ordnance. He had brought with him 600 men and had intended to leave most of them behind him in Ireland, but they had refused. (It should be noted that in English documents of that period MacDonald is nearly always written "McConnell" - an attempt by the scribes to give a phonetic rendering of the Gaelic form of the name). While in Ireland, James made disposition of that considerable tract of land known as the Rowt or Route, comprising the north-west corner of the modern County Antrim. His brother Colla who had held this territory, had died about the middle of May 1558. James thereupon offered it to his brothers Alexander and Angus in turn, who both refused; and lastly to the famous Sorley Boy (Somhairle Buidhe), who accepted; of whom Sussex says that "he only of all the brethern remaineth in this realm". The descendants of Sorley Boy remain to this day as Earls of Antrim. In that same month of June 1558, Conn O' Neill, Earl of Tyrone, wrote to Queen Mary of England desiring letters to be sent to the Lord Deputy of Ireland to ransom or procure the liberation of his Countess, his son Conn O'Neill, and Barnaby the son of the Baron of Dungannon, all of whom James MacDonald had held prisoners in Scotland for two and a half years. Although not stated, it would look as though James were holding these distinguished personages as hostages. He had houses in plenty in which to detain, or entertain, his prisoners; the fortress of Dun Naomhaig and the house of Kilchoman in Islay; the newly acquired Saddell, and Machrimore and Dunaverty in Kintyre. It would be interesting to know if he sometimes gave his unwilling guests a change of air at Saddell, or other of his Kintyre houses. On May 5th 1558 Mary Queen of Scots and Francis her husband issued a charter re-granting to him lands in the barony of Bar in Kintyre, and in Islay, in respect of which the original charters and other·writs had been lost by war and fire, in consideration of the notable service tendered to her and to the Realm of Scotland in defence of the said kingdom and its liberties, and in Ireland against our old enemies of England ("contra veteres nostros Anglie hostes"). All this was antecedent to the raid by Lord Deputy Sussex, and the lost writs and charters must have been destroyed during earlier troubles in which the heads of the Clan Donald had been involved.
The sequence of events in the Kintyre raid appears from the despatches sent by Sussex to Queen Mary of England. On Sept. 13th 1558 he reported the arrival of the ships destined for the expedition against the Western coast and Islands of Scotland. The ships had arrived on Sept. 1st, and Sussex states that he is ·now ready to sail, "trustyng to accomplysh your Hyghnes commandment yf wynd and wether serve". On Oct. 3rd he wrote again, being then on board the "Mary Willoughby". He states that he set sail from Dublin on Sept. 14th, and arrived in Cantyre on the 19th, "where I landed and burned the hole countrye". He then went on to Arran and the Cumbraes, where he did the same. He intended to go to Bute, but when riding at anchor between Cumbrae and Bute "there rose suddenly a terrybell tempeste in whyche I sustained some losse". On Oct. 6th he was back at Knockfergus and went on to the harbour of Olderflete, now Larne, from which he wrote another letter to Queen Mary Tudor, amplifying the information already given in his previous letters. He states: "The xiiijth (Sept) I imbarked in the Bryttain rode by Dublin, and so having a scarce wynde, arrived the xixth in Lowghe Gilkeran in Kyntyre. The same daye I landed and burned eight myles of leynght, and therewith James McConnelles chief house called Saudell, a fayre pyle and a stronge. The neixte day I crossed over the lande and burned twelve myles a leynght on the other side of the lowghe, wherin were burned a fayre howse of his called Mawher Imore (Machrimore) and a stronge castell called Donalvere (Dunaverty). The third daye I returned another waye to the shipps".
At Olderfleet Sussex held a council of war "of the capitayns, maisteres and purcers" at which he found that three ships only of his fleet were fit for further service at sea and that even if the tackle and provisions of the others were put into these three and his own ship, he would not have been able to take more than 500 soldiers for the expedition to the Isles of Scotland, with provisions for only three weeks. The council of war had therefore decided that it was impossible to proceed to Islay and the other islands, and therefore "I was forced to leave parte of your Majesties commandment unexecuted". The expedition was not renewed. Queen Mary Tudor died on the 17th Nov. 1558, and Sorley Boy and his successors in Antrim found it more to their advantage to keep on the side of the new Queen Elizabeth. In June 1559 Queen Elizabeth wrote to McDonnell (Sorley Boy) from Westminster commending his fidelity and diligent service, which had been reported to her by the Earl of Sussex. James Macdonald, whose houses of Saddell and Machrimore were burned by Sussex in 1558, was killed in the Glens of Antrim in 1565 in a battle with Shane O'Neill. His brother, Sorley Boy, was captured by O'Neill but was soon set at liberty. He took advantage of the confusion of the times to seize the Irish estates of James, which together with the Islay patrimony should have gone to Angus, the younger son of James.
The raid on Kintyre by the Earl of Sussex in 1558 gives rise to certain speculations. To what extent was the "fayre pyle" of the house or castle destroyed? From the account given by Sussex it might appear that he left it a complete ruin. The estate of Saddell remained in Macdonald possession until 1607, when all the Clan Donald lands in Kintyre, including Saddell, were conveyed by James VI to Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll and founder of the Burgh of Campbeltown. There appears to be no evidence either of restoration or of occupation. Nearly a century after the Sussex raid, in 1650, the Saddell lands were given in tack by the Marquis of Argyll to William Ralston of that ilk, with the castle as his house of residence. At that date it was in a condition of complete disrepair, and one of the conditions of Ralston's tack was to make it habitable within two' years. The building had not collapsed, but there were breaches in the masonry and it required a new roof; so in absence of other evidence it would seem that the destruction wrought by Sussex had remained untouched and unrestored until the coming of the new era of the Lowland settlers. At least the outward form of the Castle as it stands today on the Saddell shore is probably as it was restored by William Ralston, but a new roof was put on shortly before the second world war by the late Dr. Andrew Campbell of Johannesburg; who was then the owner of the estate.
The ancient history of Saddell comes to an end with the transfer of the estate to the 7th Earl of Argyll in 1607; the new begins with Ralston's restoration of the Castle and lands in 1650. Saddell remained in Campbell possession from 1607 till quite recent times, and for long was occupied by members of that same family. The first Provost of Campbeltown after its erection into a Burgh Royal in 1700 was John Campbell of Saddell, whose signature can still be seen in the first volume of the Minute Books of the Burgh. The last Campbell owner and occupier was Dr. Andrew Campbell of Johannesburg, who claimed relationship with the original Campbells of Saddell, but whose remains were interred for some obscure reason not in the historic burial ground of the Abbey, but at Brackley.
Footnote: The old castle was carefully restored about ten years ago by the Landmark Trust who rent it to holidaymakers.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Campbeltown was a much smaller place than it is today. The map which is illustrated in Smith's "Views of Campbeltown" (1835) shows buildings in Main Street, Burnside Street, Kirk Street, Shore Street and Longrow. The sea, of course, came up to Shore Street and Lochend, and there were houses running along the length of Lochend connecting the Burgh with the village of Dalintober.
It can be imagined that in this small community, everyone, at least in the upper echelons of society, knew everyone else.
But human beings then seemed to show no more brotherly love than they do today and as my story shows, there was a good deal of disregard for the law among that class which might have been expected to observe and uphold it.
The records of the Criminal authorities for the year 1827 give a picture of a headstrong and wilful gentry, tetchy and arrogant, ever on the look out for slights to their honour.
David Stewart Galbraith of Machrihanish and Drumore lived at Drumore House. He was a Bailie of the Burgh in 1834 and in the voters roll is shown as possessing writing chambers in the Burgh. It seems to have been animosity for John Larne Stewart Younger of Glenbuckie rather than a regard for the Law, which caused him in April 1827 to report to the Procurator Fiscal that a prosecution should be taken for culpable homicide against Stewart who, while driving his gig in the Main Street had knocked down an old man Dugald Hendry who was alleged to have died from his injuries.
The Procurator Fiscal does not seem to have been very impressed with the report but he dutifully investigated the facts. The Fiscal knew that the accident had been witnessed by Sheriff Mactavish and one or two other prominent citizens and very properly thought that if the Sheriff had not thought it necessary to report the matter there was unlikely to have been a crime.
In reporting the case to Robert Bruce, Sheriff Depute of the County, Daniel Mactaggart the Procurator Fiscal pointed out that Galbraith himself had been accused of striking Robert Muir, Baker in Campbeltown with a cane to the effusion of blood. The Magistrates of the Burgh had instructed Galbraith to give a Bond for his good behaviour and the Fiscal believed he had reported John Lorne Stewart, the son of Duncan Stewart, ex-Provost of the Burgh and the Chamberlain of Kintyre as much to embarass the Provost as for any other reason.
Even before these events, other prominent citizens came to the notice of the criminal authorities.
In February 1827, Alexander Campbell, Messenger at Arms in Lochgilphead had called at Ballinakiel House, then the seat of Angus McAlester. It had been a disastrous meeting and ended up with charges against Campbell of hamesucken (the old Scots crime of forcing entry to a man's home to assault him) and assault on Ballinakiel and his brother John and on the other hand, Ballinakiel was accused of deforcement (interfering with a Messenger in the course of his duties) and assault on Campbell.
The Procurator Fiscal duly reported to the Sheriff that he had investigated but had not taken proceedings.
He wrote "When Campbell was examined, he stated that Ballinakiel knocked him down, repeatedly leaped upon his body, cut and bled him, and that he called out 'Murder' six or seven times. His assistant Donald Jackson corroborated his statement in every particular and by their story Ballinakiel's conduct was most disgraceful. But the servants who were in the house that night heard no noise or quarreling or cries of Murder. One of them who was in the room saw Campbell asleep on a sofa and heard Ballinakiel refuse to give him dinner and no person saw marks of violence on Campbell except Jackson. Mr. McAlester's story is that his brother Ballinakiel refused to allow Campbell to dine with him who had previously promised to wait until an express should return from Campbeltown -, that Campbell went to Clachan and returned after dinner, waited in the room till late - was shown to the door - he returned on pretence of seeking for something and when passing, Ballinakiel and his brother struck each a violent blow on the head and ran off. The surgeon says that Mr. John McAlester's life was not out of danger for 7 or 8 days and another witness declared that his room was like a slaughter-house. The stories on both sides are very much against the opposite party But I am disposed to believe that Campbell is the guilty person and that he is the one who ought to be taken up in place of Ballinakiel. For my own part however, I would not venture to apply for a warrant against either".
The same view was taken by the Lord Advocate's office and no proceedings took place.
This brush with the law however, did not act as a deterrent to John McAlester, and on 7th May the Procurator Fiscal wrote to him.
"As it is dreaded that you and Mr. John Beith (who was Manager of the Renfrewshire Bank) intend to commit a breach of the Peace it is necessary you should be both put under caution and to save the trouble of sending a warrant and party to apprehend you I beg you may come down here and it will be as well your Brother should accompany you and sign the Bond".
John McAlester granted a Bond and a week later the Fiscal wrote him to the effect that, in his opinion, he and not Mr. Beith was to blame for "this disagreeable occurrence".
"My opinion is that you should settle the matter. Mr. Beith is a little stiff and short in the temper but there is a great deal of sterling honesty about him and altho he should be at times a little crabit when unreasonably or hard pressed, I think under all the circumstances and his connection with your brother's affairs you should have had a little more patience about him I think you should make an apology to quash the matter. I believe you to be decidely wrong. It is more manly in my opinion for you to admit your error than fight a duel".
John McAlester seems to have quietened down under the Fiscal's admonition, but it is not surprising that he was agog to hear more of the happenings of the last week of October which must have had all Campbeltown astir.
His cousin Archy Watson, a Campbeltown merchant rushed to quench his thirst for information (1)
"Campbeltown: Friday 2nd November, 1827.
My dear John,
I have your letter of the 1st inst. wishing to know the result of Captain Frederick's and Mr. John Stewart's affair the Parties went from this on Wednesday by the steamboat and no further accounts of them is yett known.
There is so many different accounts of the Cause of the quarrel that I cannot vouch to give you the true one Report says that the difference happened in consequence of Captain Frederick's name being erased from the list of Justices at Inveraray and I believe he blamed Mr. Stewart for having done so or been the Cause.
On Saturday last Captain Frederick went out to Knockrioch and after meeting Mr. Stewart he handed him a letter to read and look him streight in the face. Mr. Stewart having read it assured him he had nothing to do in the Matter. High words having taken place Captain Frederick alighted from his horse when boxing started and the Captain was floored on his bottom report says that Captain Frederick then offered to shake hands and make the matter up which Mr. Stewart refused.
The Gentlemen came into town and chuse their Seconds when a meeting was emmediately to take place but information being given to the Sheriff, Warrants was issued and the Parties were obliged to lodge Caution.
The parties are both gone with the Steamboat to decide the Matter. Captain Halford has gone as Mr. Stewart's friend and D. Stewart Galbraith Esqr as Captain Frederick's. Mr. Dugald Brown is taken as Surgeon but I do not think any Meeting will take place as Mr. McTaggart has wrote all the Sheraffs to take the Parties up. The Matter will certainly make a great noise and I have no doubt you will see some account of it in the Pappers by the time you receive this.
Excuse this scrole as I can hardly hold the pen in my hand. I thank you for the pair of birds by the Carier".
The fact that the Procurator Fiscal Daniel Mactaggart was married to Captain Frederick's sister must have caused some amusement to the beneficiary of the Fiscal's recent homily on the inadvisability of fighting duels.
Local legend has it, though I have been unable to trace any written record, that the reason for the trip to Glasgow was that one of the local ministers hearing of the proposed duel took an early morning constitutional and interrupted the preparations.
There is. no evidence in the records that the Fiscal took steps to warn colleagues in other Sheriffdoms but he had done what he could to stop the affair locally.
On 27th October he took a Petition against both parties for assault on each other and for breach of the peace and he spent the best part of 28th and 29th taking statements from witnesses and declarations from the Parties and there can be little doubt that the words of wisdom he had earlier directed to John McAllister would be addressed to his own brother-in-law.
One cannot but have sympathy for the Fiscal. Captain Frederick was not only a close relative but a trusted intimate. Very shortly before, he had been engaged by Mr. Mactaggart as a confidential emissary in negotiations arising out of the alleged jilting of a young relative by the Minister of the Highland Church.
Duelling was a serious matter. Up till 1820 fighting a duel, even though no injury resulted had been a capital crime in Scotland, and even to issue a challenge was a serious offence.
Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck (son of Johnson's biographer) had succeeded in having an Act passed which abolished these crimes as such. By a tragic irony, he him self was killed in a duel on 22nd March 1822 - the last fatal duel in Scotland so far as I can discover.
One can therefore understand the Fiscal's distaste for the whole business, as evidenced by the letter he wrote to Dugald Mactavish of Kilchrist, the Sheriff Substitute, on 30th October
"Since you left town I have again perused the Declarations in this wretched business, and altho I agree with you in thinking that the case should be sent to Mr. Bruce (the Sheriff Depute) yet I feel unspeakable difficulty in addressing him on the subject and I have therefore to entreat that you will take the trouble of forwarding the papers yourself".
Meantime, the two warriors were set on carrying out the affair and the Glasgow Herald of 2nd November cryptically announced,
"An affair of honour took place yesterday morning in a field near town on the Dumbarton Road betwixt two gentlemen who arrived the previous evening from Argyleshire where they had been bound over to keep the peace. After an exchange of shots the Seconds interfered and an amicable arrangement ensued".
Perhaps the Editor of the Herald was fortunate not to receive a challenge himself, because the gentlemen eventually insisted on a correction which appeared in the paper on Monday 5th November. It was as follows:-
"We are authorised to state that in the affair of honour mentioned in our last no interference on the part of the Seconds took place. After exchange of shots Mr. S in the most handsome manner advanced towards his antagonist Captain C and declared that he considered him a man of honour and a gentleman which satisfied the friends of the parties".And there, it seems, the matter ended.
The Procurator Fiscal was able to report, no doubt with real satisfaction to the Sheriff Principal on 9th November,
"The affair between Mr. Stewart and Captain Frederick Campbell has been settled according to Military Etiquette and as I understand they shaked hands before leaving the field. I hope they got quit of their gall and are now good friends again".
And, on 13th November he gives a much fuller explanation to John McNeill of Oakfield.
"You would have heard from the newspapers that Captain Frederick Campbell and Mr. John Stewart had a disagreeable meeting near Glasgow and was in consequence of the former being recommended for nomination by the District meeting in the new Commission of the Peace and the Latter with Colonel McAlester having scored his name in a Secret Committee from the original extract which they afterwards allowed to be returned to the Clerk and deposited among the public records where it was seen. Captain Frederick's friends consider him to be a most sober correct and intelligent man and in rank and circumstances superior to some of those who have been recommended and he appears to feel very acutely what he persists in saying was a personal insult.
His wife knew nothing of this business until the day after he left this for Glasgow. They have both been very happy since her last return from Edinburgh and as poor Frederick was beginning to feel more comfortable both at home and abroad both Mrs. Campbells have been alarmed least this business should sit more heavily on his mind than it ought but in any conversation I had with him on the subject he spoke calmly and deliberately and I sincerely hope he will soon forget it".
There is perhaps an indication here of the gallant Captain's irascibility and other correspondence indicates that he was perhaps suffering from high blood pressure.
That seems to be the end of the matter and there is no indication of a recurrence of this somewhat sudden outbreak of violence among so many prominent citizens.
Captain Frederick Campbell was the son of Captain Scipio Duroure Campbell and Giles Campbell whose father Archibald Campbell was Chamberlain of Kintyre and who according to Colonel Charles Mactaggart, a descendant was of the Campbells of Kinloch (2). The father was of the Campbells of South Hall, the representative of which family was a member of the jury which convicted James Stewart of the Glen in connection with the Appin Murder. Captain Scipio had a half brother known as Mustapha Pasha who became Grand Vizier of Turkey and Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Army. Frederick himself served with the 94th Regiment, the Scots Brigade, which was originally raised in 1793 and served in India and in the Peninsular War and took part in the reduction of Badajoz in 1812.
John Lorne Stewart was the son and successor of Duncan Stewart Chamberlain of Kintyre who acquired Knockrioch Estate in 1798. Father and son were Provosts of the Burgh.
The family were known as Stewart of Glenbuckie, their Estate on Loch Voil side where the family house of Stronvar stood. It was they who built Stronvar in Campbeltown. The original Glenbuckie line died out in the 18th Century, but a Stewart of Ardsheal married a Glenbuckie daughter and they continued to design themselves as of Glenbuckie. The last part proprietor of Knockrioch actually bearing the name of Stewart was Robert Bruce Stewart, who died in 1948 and was Chief of the Appin Stewarts. The village of Stewarton takes its name from this family.
In view of the Athol raids of 1685/89 it is strange to find a Perthshire Stewart appointed as factor to the Duke's Kintyre Estates.
(1) 'Duel in Dumbarton Road' by Alison
G. Moffat - Glasgow Herald 15th February 1958.
Thanks are due to the author whom I have been
unable to contact, for stimulating my interest in
this event and to the Editor of the Glasgow
Herald for permission to quote extensively.
(2) "A Ramble through Old Kilkerran Cemetery" A lecture given by Colonel Charles Mactaggart to the Society on 25th October 1922. I am sure I heard this lecture (at the age of 7) and I have always been conscious of the debt I owe to Colonel Mactaggart for stimulating my interest in the history of our native town.
Copyright belongs to the authors unless otherwise stated.
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