The ancient estate of Dorrator has already been covered in this series on the FLHS website. For centuries it belonged to the Callander family. Within Dorrator were the Lands of Newhouse which were probably only brought into cultivation in the 16th century – hence the name. The last of the direct line of Callanders, Ludovick, had a daughter called Jean who married John Willison who then took the name of Callander. Their son, also Ludovick Callander, died childless and the estate was sold in 1727. After changing hands several times it was acquired, around 1754, by James Burns who quickly feued off the southern part of the lands and rented Dorrator House and the surrounding fields to tenants.
Newhouse was divided up and the feuing map of c1760 shows the main owners as being James Baird (No 35 on the map at Bridgehill), Major Chalmers of Camelon Mansion House (1), Janet Graham (34) and Elizabeth Moorhead (30 – Sunnyside). The late 18th century saw a lot of the huge older estates broken up and new ones formed which then expanded and contracted according to the fortunes of their owners.
In 1768 Major Chalmers assumed the name of Fergusson for inheritance purposes. He married Anne, daughter of William Comrie of Comrie, Perthshire. Major John Chalmers Fergusson died 6 July 1780 at Camelon House and his wife died there in 1789. Their only child, Johanna Fergusson of Isle and Camelon, married Michael, son of Sir Michael Bruce of Stenhouse, Bart. After his death she remarried and around 1808 Camelon Mansion House was rented out to John Baird of Gauze in Bo’ness. He was presumably related to the James Baird who held the field at Bridgehill in 1760 and by 1810 he and Johnstone Baird are named as its proprietors. (Camelon Mansion House and its parks were acquired by John Baird, by then styled “of Camelon,” and his wife Mary Dunlop, in 1826.)
John Cowie, farmer in Sunnyside (previously at Todholes in the Parish of St Ninians, Stirling), purchased part of Newhouse from Joanna Fergusson in 1818. A large loan was arranged with James Mitchell, a surgeon in Stenhouse, to enable him to do so and so the ground was encumbered with the debt meaning that Mitchell and his wife Isabella Brown held a right to the title. A few years later, in 1823, the debt was transferred to Catherine Grindlay, the wife of George Rankine, innkeeper in Falkirk, and the following year her father, James Grindlay senior, took it over. The land appears to have been called Margaret Field and covered four acres 2 roods and 11 falls, split into two fields.
James Grindlay senior was a nail manufacturer, then the predominant industry in Camelon. The following year, in 1824 he augmented his landholding in the area with the purchase of a pendicle of land called Gardner’s Acre or Acres from John Cowie as well as a two-storey house on the Main Street at the east end of the village of Camelon.
James Grindlay senior then lived at the house on Main Street and Margaret Field together with Gardner’s Acres was sub-feud to one of his sons, John Grindlay, student of Divinity. That same year, 1825, John acquired additional land at Camelon and at Denny from Archibald Willison who had been the first minister of Birsay in Orkney. Although from Montrose, it seems likely that Willison was related to the Callanders of Dorrator. It was at this time that a small mansion was built at Margaret Field which now became known as St Margaret’s (actually it was on the Gardner’s Acre). It was a two storey stone dwelling of a standard type with an ashlar south façade and a hipped slated roof. A central doorway on the ground floor was framed by pilasters with a moulded architrave. To either side of this was a vertical rectangular window and on the floor above were three more symmetrically disposed windows. The number of rooms is indicated in an inventory taken in 1840 which lists them as the lobby, parlour, second parlour, kitchen, bedroom down stairs, servant’s room, drawing room, dining room, front bedroom upstairs, back bedroom upstairs and another small bedroom upstairs.
As a preacher of the Gospel, John was not successful. He was evidently living beyond his means and the presbytery of Linlithgow served him with a libel containing fourteen counts
“charging him with various crimes and immoralities unbecoming of a Christian, and especially a preacher”(Edinburgh Evening Courant 3 May 1832, 2).
He appealed to the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale against this decision and although some of the accusations were moderated most were sustained. A second appeal was no more successful.
It may have been for reasons connected with this life style that John had to return St Margaret’s to James Grindlay senior, though he continued to live there. James immediately advertised it for let from the following Whitsunday (ie the end of May 1829):
“DESIRABLE RESIDENCE IN STIRLINGSHIRE, TO BE LET. To be LET, for one of more years as may be agreed on, A MOST desirable RESIDENCE within a mile of Falkirk. It consists of a mansion House, Offices, and Garden, with grass for one or two Cows. Entry at Whitsunday next. Rent moderate.
Farther particulars will be given on application to James Grindlay, writer, Falkirk, who will give orders of admittance to the premises.(Falkirk Herald 15 March 1828, 1).
That winter was one of the mildest on record and this was remarked upon by the newspapers. Evidence of the elevated temperatures could be witnessed in the unusual progress of the growing season and as early as the 14th January 1829 the Inverness Courier noted :
“As a proof of the genial temperature, we can state, that there is at present in the garden of James Grindlay. Esq of St. Margaret’s near Falkirk, beans and pease in full bloom, with many of the ordinary summer flowers.”
Unfortunately it did not last.
Rev John Grindlay died sometime before 1834 when James Grindlay senior put St Margaret’s up for sale. It was probably in preparation for this that Alexander Black, land surveyor, was asked to produce a plan of Saint Margaret’s in 1833. The roup took place on 24 July in the Red Lion Inn in the High Street of Falkirk and the upset price was set at £1,000. There were no offerers and so the reserve was reduced to £800 but even at that price a subsequent roup on 28 May 1835 failed to find a buyer. As well as James Grindlay senior, there were a number of other people with an interest in the land for sale. These included James Grindlay writer in Falkirk, George Rankine of Camelon and Janet Lorn, relict of John Lorn, shipowner and merchant in Grangemouth, who had loaned money on the asset of the property.
The property remained on the market until the end of 1838 when Patrick Waugh of Arbuthnot in Jamaica expressed an interest in it. Patrick was a resident slave-owner and attorney in Jamaica and it seems that he was making preparations to return to Scotland permanently and to invest the modest fortune that he had accrued in a small estate there. Russel and Aitken acted as his legal advisors in Falkirk and on 30 January 1839 James Grindlay senior signed a deed of disposition in favour of Patrick which was registered in the Instruments of Sasine at Stirling on 4 July.
Patrick Waugh fitted out St Margaret’s with furniture and sorted out the restriction that had been placed on the purchase due to Janet Lorn’s loan. He also changed the name to Arbuthnot after the plantation in Jamaica. He appears to have resided in Grahamston whilst in the area, presumably at an inn where his meals were prepared for him and which would have been heated in those winter months. There is a hint that Waugh invested more of his money in renovating Arbuthnot House (Slave website). The house was only eleven or so years old and so this may have taken the form of a small extension to accommodate his large family and may explain why he did not stay there. By the end of 1840 he had returned to Jamaica where we can only speculate that he now planned to transfer his family to his property in Scotland. These arrangements would take some time and so in the interval, on 20 March 1840, he provided Russel and Aitken with a mandate to let the property in Camelon:
“As this is my intention to leave this country for the West Indies in a few days where I may be for some time, I have to request of you taking charge of any properties in Great Britain during my absence. My attorneys, agents and you are authorized to let lease parts of lands or houses I am the landlord of, also to draw on interest of any manors I have in this country…”
At the time that Patrick Waugh left Scotland he had an inventory taken of the contents of Arbuthnot which will be found in Appendix 1. He was now part of the landed class in Scotland and consequently his eldest daughter’s wedding was noted in the Aberdeen Journal & General Advertiser on 9 December 1840:
“Married, at Georgia Estate, Trelawney, Jamaica, on the 24th September, by the Rev. H Fraser, A.M, James Murray Esq to Anne, eldest daughter of Patrick Waugh Esq of Arbuthnot Cottage, Stirlingshire, and Dromily Estate, Trelawney, Jamaica.”
It is likely that he was able to attend.
Arbuthnot was let first to Mary Wordie and then to a Mr Littlejohn, but by 1843 Arbuthnot was up for rent again:
“VILLA in Stirlingshire to be Let. To be let with entry immediately, THE VILLA called ARBUTHNOT near Camelon and within a mile of Falkirk with offices & garden. The dwelling house contains excellent accommodation – is furnished, and altho’ it lies in the neighbourhood of good markets and a post office it is retired and sheltered.
To persons who are under the necessity of being frequently in Edinburgh or Glasgow the situation is nearly as convenient as a house in the suburbs of those places and can be reached from either of them by the Railway in almost an hour. The Conveyance by the Canal is also good and cheap.
Farther particulars will be learned on application to Messrs RUSSEL & AITKEN, Writers, Falkirk. 18d March, 1843.”(Russel & Aitken Archives).
In the meantime the two parks had been let to William Fulton of Sunnyside and in March 1843 this was formally extended for another four crops at the rent of £16 per annum. He had to agree to the following rotation of cropping:
|Wester Park crop||1843||– oats sown down|
|do.||1844||barley & oats sown down|
However, if the landlord found it necessary to assume possession of the parks to enable him to get his house let to advantage he was entitled to do so at any term of Martinmas prior to the expiry of the lease on giving Fulton intimation in writing and making allowance for unexhausted manure and improvements on the premises under the agreement at the sight of neutral men to be mutually chosen. Patrick Waugh also agreed to pay for four or five hundred drain tiles to be put into the Wester Park if Fulton deemed that necessary – the tenant defraying all the other costs of the drainage.
In May 1844 William Fairbairn rented Arbuthnot House and upon entry another inventory was taken. The furniture was then removed and sold in the Assembly Room in Falkirk on 28 June 1844. Fairburn was also a nail master in Camelon and had been living at Camelon Park. Part of his reason for moving was to reduce his expenses; however, it was evident that Arbuthnot House was not being properly maintained. In April 1846 Mary Fairbairn complained that she and her husband were paying tax for four windows there that they were unable to benefit from because the rooms were not in a fit state to use. The western gable needed pointing and the whole building white-washed. A year on and her husband asked for the walls to be harled as per their agreement. And another year on Mary was back asking for the dining room and one of the bedrooms to be painted to make them habitable.
Not surprisingly Arbuthnot house and its garden were soon available again:
(Falkirk Herald 8 March 1849, 3).
“VILLA TO LET. To be Let for such number of Years as may be agreed on, with Entry at Whitsunday next, THE VILLA of ARBUTHNOT with the Offices and Garden adjoining. This Villa lies within a mile of Falkirk. It has easy access to Edinburgh and Glasgow by the railway. The House is in good repair, the accommodation ample, the situation dry and healthy. Rent moderate.
Farther particulars will be learned on application to Messrs RUSSEL & AITKEN, Writers, Falkirk. 22d February, 1849.”
This time it was rented by John Dickson, a veterinary surgeon returning from Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. He died there on 12 November 1850 (Falkirk Herald 14 November 1850, 2). The next tenant was James T Wilson of the Spittle Chemical Works who was resident there in 1853 when the local artist, Stewart, painted his portrait. In 1855 he gave a series of lectures at the Falkirk School of Arts on chemistry and physics, including such subjects as the nature of heat, light and the construction of microscopes and telescopes.
J T Wilson was constantly annoyed by the lack of maintenance at Arbuthnot. Writing from there on 31 March 1853 he made various offers:
“In reference to my house as the mater had been already set that for the ensuing year by your clerk enquiring as usual if I was to remain & getting my affirmative it is out of the question to suppose I would give more rent for the house considered as it is for that period – but if you will spend £12 or £15 on it I will give on that account £3 for this next year leaving a subsequent period open to future bargain. I do not think however that £12 or £15 will do anything like putting such a house in the order in which it ought to be to bring it a fair rental (none of the principal rooms below have a mantelpiece for instance). And it therefore occurs to me that if you will give leave to cut down some ugly trees which disfigure & destroy the ground – I will plant some shrubs & c immediately & make it more comfortable & as to the house, if you put up the spouts, I would rent on for another year with as little outlay as possible & if the landlord write in the meantime to agree to put the House in really good order & I found I am to remain I will not grudge a reasonable rent for it.”(Russel & Aitken Archives).
The offer was refused. Wilson pointed out that the house had never brought a higher rental than he was paying and that it never would because the road leading to the house was in an appalling condition and there was no proper garden. He then offered to give the present rental and spend £10 on repairing the main door and windows, painting the woodwork, and other essential work such as fixing the down-spouts to stop the rainwater running down the front face of the house. This too was rejected. The accommodation at Arbuthnot House then consisted of a dining room, drawing room, parlour, sitting room, five bed rooms, library room and kitchen. The offices included a byre and washing house, hay loft and well.
It was during Wilson’s tenancy that Russel and Aitken received a letter informing them that
“Patrick Waugh, Esquire of Arbuthnot in the above parish died on the 13th day of September 1854 and was interred by me the following day in St. Luke’s Church Yard.”
Wilson was informed that he could stay for another year and consideration turned to selling the property. In his will Patrick Waugh had left most of his estate to his five daughters to be held in common and not jointly.
A few years later Mrs Baird, as the feudal superior, issued another charter of Arbuthnot in Camelon to the new owners who were listed as:
“Mrs Elizabeth Waugh or Jennings spouse of William James Jennings residing at Arbuthnot in the County of Cornwall and Island of Jamaica; Janet Waugh or Tingle spouse of George Randolph Tingle residing at Kinloss County of Cornwall and Island of Jamaica; Mary Gordon Waugh or Fogarty formerly residing at Collaston County of Middlesex and Island of Jamaica, now at Grove Place Portobello near Edinburgh; and Rebecca Waugh spouse of John Essington Nash of Ballintoy, Saint Ann’s Middlesex, Island of Jamaica – the said Elizabeth Waugh, Janet Waugh, Mary Gordon Waugh and Rebecca Gordon Waugh being four of the five daughters and heirs in law of the late Patrick Waugh designed in the Disposition in his favour after-mentioned as lately of Jamaica presently residing at Grahamstone but who afterwards returned to, and died in, Jamaica – and as such four of his heirs portioners – and of William Murray eldest son and heir of the late Ann Waugh or Murray spouse of late James Murray of Jamaica thereafter residing at Bon Accord Square Aberdeen, being the other heir-portioner of the said Patrick Waugh thro’ his mother the said Ann Waugh or Murray the other or fifth daughter of said Patrick Waugh, and which William Murray as such is heir portioner”.
With such a large number of owners, most of whom were still resident in Jamaica, it took a long time to make decisions affecting the property. William Murray and Daniel Fogarty, being in Scotland, tended to act on their behalf in connection with the properties there. The daughters in Jamaica evidently did not intend to return to Scotland and although all seemed happy to sell the lands in Stirlingshire it took a great deal of negotiation to get them all to agree on the details. Nor did they profit much from the rentals collected as most of the income went on paying taxes and management fees – as usual the ones who profited most were the lawyers.
Murray was particularly prominent in pushing Russel and Aitken to remove the tenants and sell the assets. He and Fogarty corresponded extensively with the family in Jamaica. Arbuthnot and the other property near Denny were advertised:
“The following properties, belonging to the Heirs of the late Patrick Waugh, Esq, of Jamaica, viz:
- The LANDS of BANKHEAD, computed to extend to about 80 acres, presently occupied by Mr William Dunn. This property lies nearly adjoining the village of Loanhead, and at a moderate (and nearly equal distance) from the market towns of Stirling and Falkirk, to where there is access by good roads, and whose farm-produce can be advantageously disposed of. The lands are of excellent quality. They are well inclosed; there is a substantial farm-steading upon them; and coal and lime are in the immediate neighbourhood.
- The LANDS OF BANKNOCK, computed to extend to 60 imperial acres, presently possessed by Mr Alexander Arbuckle. This property lies near Bankhead, although they do not adjoin. It has all the advantages possessed by the other property in point of locality and otherwise.
These two properties will either be sold together or separately, as may be wished.
- The VILLA of ARBUTHNOT, with the LANDS adjoining, extending to about five acres, presently occupied by Mr Wilson and Mr Fulton. This property is finely situated in a pleasant locality. The lands are of a dry rich soil. The Dwelling-house and Offices are commodious, and well adapted for the residence of a respectable family. Possession thereof may be got at Whitsunday next. The Railway between Edinburgh and Perth pass in the near neighbourhood, and the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway within about a mile of the premises; stations on both are at a moderate distance from the property; and the market town of Falkirk is quite at hand.
NB. Ironstone has been lately discovered in the neighbourhood of Loanhead, and preparations are at present being made to work it. It is believed this ironstone will be found under both Bankhead and Banknock, and if so will be available to a purchase.
The tenants of the different properties will show them to intending offerers; and farther particulars will be learned on application to JAMES MURRAY, Esq., Bon Accord Square, Aberdeen; or to Messrs Russell & Aitken, writers, Falkirk. Falkirk, 1st June, 1855. (Falkirk Herald 7 June 1855, 1)
In April 1856 Murray was hassling James Wilson to leave Arbuthnot House as he wanted to move in himself, but Wilson refused to do so until the end of his lease. A storm the previous month had damaged the west gable causing the ingress of water. Normally Wilson would have made remedial repairs but now he suggested that Murray should repair it. Things then took an unexpected turn when Ann Murray (nee Waugh) died on 25 October 1855 and James Murray died the following January.
“VILLA STIRLINGSHIRE TO BE LET. To be Let for such period as may be agreed on, with Entry Immediately, The VILLA OF ARBUTHNOT. belonging to the Heirs of the late Patrick Waugh, Esq., with the OFFICES and PERTINENTS, and either with or without the Parks adjoining. This Villa lies within a short distance from the Falkirk Stations on the Edinburgh and Glasgow and Central Railways. The house is in good repair, and contains ample accommodation, and the situation is dry and healthy.(Falkirk Herald 30 October 1856, 2).
Farther particulars will be learned on application to Messrs MURRAY and McCOMBIE, Aberdeen; D FOGARTY, Esq., 36 Queen Street, Edinburgh; or Messrs RUSSEL & AITKEN, Falkirk.
N.B. – Preparations are in progress for bringing this and the late Mr Waugh’s other Properties in Stirlingshire to Sale, and parties wishing to purchase may apply as above.”
Wilson moved out and Rev R Spence temporarily moved in. In November 1856 John McNab, late of Cuba but then residing in Falkirk, decided to rent Arbuthnot House and park for a year. On 20 November 1857 Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel W Glendonwyn Scott formerly of the 91st Regiment, then living at Pleasance Cottage, agreed to rent Arbuthnot House for £24 a year and the parks for £13.10. He noted that the gate pillars required repair and that the rendering and whitewash on the house and the offices could do with touching up to make them respectable. Some chimney cans were missing and he was worried about the flues smoking. The outside privy was also not functioning. By December 1858 he was complaining that none of the repairs had been executed, including that work on the privy! As he had anticipated, the house smoked exceedingly. The grates had not been properly fitted and at least one mounted can (locally known as “an auld wife”) was needed. After repeated attempts to get Russel and Aitken to do something about it Scott finally called David Draper of Dundee Court in to fix them. On 20 April the following year his son was born at Arbuthnot.
On hearing of the acceptance of Scott’s initial offer to rent the mansion Daniel Fogarty was irritated. He had hoped to have the final arrangements in place by then so that he could take up occupancy himself. Whilst on a trip to Jamaica he had bought out many of the Waugh’s sisters’ interests in the estate of Arbuthnot and the property in Denny, paying each around £625. However he was able to arrange for a temporary lease of Sunnyside, the adjacent property. In 1859 he finally achieved his goal and moved into Arbuthnot with his family.
(Falkirk Herald 8 December 1859, 1).
“WANTED, A GOVERNESS who will undertake the Tuition of Four Children between the Ages of 5 and 11 Years.—Apply to D. Fogarty, Arbuthnot. 9th December, 1859.”
He must not have gained complete ownership at that time for the following November the residence was again advertised:
“TO LET THE VILLA and GARDEN of ARBUTHNOT, with or without the Park adjoining, for such period as may be agreed upon. Entry may be had when required. Apply at the House, or to Russel & Aitken, writers.”(Falkirk Herald 22 November 1860, 1).
He was still in occupancy in July 1861 when the lease came up towards its annual renewal (Falkirk Herald 18 July 1861). The Ordnance Surveyors were certainly under the impression that he was the owner when they described the house as
“A neat cottage with offices attached, all slated and in good repair. Property and residence of Mrs Fogarty.”
It was his wife’s interests that were foremost, being the daughter of Patrick Waugh. The census of that year shows the following:
|Daniel Fogarty||head||44||landed proprietor||Scotland|
|Mary G Fogarty||wife||33||Jamaica|
|Patrick H Fogarty||son||12||scholar||Jamaica|
|Mary G Fogarty||daughter||10||scholar||Jamaica|
It was probably Daniel Fogarty who had the walled garden constructed to the north-east of the house. After just two years, he, like his father-in-law, then decided to move back to Jamaica. The house and grounds were put up for sale and on 20 September 1861 the contents were sold:
“HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE AND PLENISHING, ‘SILVER PLATE, MILCH COW &c AT ARBUTHNOT HOUSE, On FRIDAY, 20th SEPTEMBER, MR JAMES NEILSON begs most respectfully to announce that he will Sell by Public Roup, at Arbuthnot House, near Falkirk, on Friday, 20th September, 1861—The Whole of the Substantially made and Highly-finished furniture new PIANOFORTE, SILVER PLATE, and PLENISHING, belonging to Daniel Fogarty, Esq., who is going abroad, comprising:
A richly-toned patent Repeater Cottage Pianoforte, in a beautiful Rosewood case;1 very handsome pillar and claw drawing-room Rosewood loo table, 1 Rosewood drawing-room couch, 2 Rosewood easy chairs with small chairs to match. a chiffonier, 8 mahogany dining-room chairs, a mahogany cabinet sideboard,2 mahogany loo tables, Set of mahogany dining table, 1 mahogany tester bedstead, 4 French bedsteads, and 3 four-posted bedsteads, richly hung with crimson and other Damask curtains, hair mattresses, straw palliassses, feather bolsters and pillows;12 pairs of English blankets & bedcovers to match; several chests of bedroom drawers; handsome mahogany double washing stands with ware; dressing tables & toilet glasses; dining-room, drawing-room, bedchamber, and lobby carpets, floor cloths, and hearth rugs; Silver-plated tea & coffee service; silver-plated hot water kettle and stand, silver-plated cruet stand with cruets; silver-plated pickle stand with bottles; silver-plated candlesticks, & c; also, crystal and china; small dinner set; moderator and lobby lamps, cooking utensils.
Likewise a beautiful Ayreshire milch cow.
A quantity of potatoes, garden tools, boiler and furnace, and other effects, & c, & c.
The furniture has been all made by Mr M Middlehurst of Falkirk, within the last three years, and is not much the worse of the wear.”(Falkirk Herald 12 September 1861, 2).
The sale of the house was postponed until 3 October 1861:
“VILLA AND LAND NEAR FALKIRK FOR SALE. To be Sold by Public Roup, within the RED LION HOTEL, Falkirk, upon Thursday the 3d day of October, 1861, at One o’clock pm, if not previously disposed of by private bargain, The VILLA of ARBUTHNOT with Two Fields containing 5 ac, 2 ro and 29 po, or thereby presently occupied by Daniel Fogarty Esq. The Property is situated in a pleasant locality, distant about a mile from Falkirk. The dwelling house is commodious and substantial, and in thorough repair, having been recently painted and papered. The dwelling house contains dining and drawing rooms, parlour, five bed-rooms, besides closets, kitchen, pantry and dairy. The offices consist of stable, byre, washing house, & c. & c. and are also in good order.
For particulars apply to Messrs Stirling, Gordon & Co, Glasgow; or to Messrs Russel & Aitken, writers, Falkirk.”(Falkirk Herald 3 October 1861, 1).
The property was put up at £800 and after brisk bidding was sold for £860 to William Inglis, manufacturer, Glasgow. William Inglis quickly became a part of the local community and acted as the chairman of the Camelon Library Committee. His great love was the game of chess and for many years he was the chairman of the Falkirk Chess and Draughts Club. The club’s anniversary meal was the highlight of the year and he was an eloquent speaker. His wife and daughter played an active role in some of the local charities such as the Falkirk Charity School. The fields attached to Arbuthnot were not used to pasture horses or a milk cow but were sown with commercial crops of potatoes and oats which were auctioned each year for cropping.
Despite the family’s integration into society the house and lands were put up for sale by private bargain in April 1870. They quickly found a purchaser in John McSymon, a grocer in Holm Street, Glasgow. Soon afterwards he also acquired the adjacent lands and house of Sunnyside. These were occupied by John Brock as the tenant. When Brock gave up the tenancy of Sunnyside in 1873 the house was rebuilt and re-let together with 1½ acres of Arbuthnot. They were taken by Archibald Ronald, who in turn quit in 1879.
Through his work John McSymon had a keen interest in vegetables and joined the Eastern District of Stirlingshire Agricultural Association. He also became a prominent member of the Camelon Horticultural Society who held their first ever horticultural show in the grounds of Arbuthnot in August 1884. The public were admitted from 1 to 6 o’clock pm. Admission from 1 to 3 o’clock cost 1s, and from 3 to 5 o’clock it was reduced to 6d. Hugh Dickson of Belfast exhibited a large selection of rose blooms from his world-famous nurseries and the Camelon Band was in attendance. It being a fine day the attendance was very good.
It seems probable that it was John McSymon who made radical alterations to the approach road to Arbuthnot House. Prior to the 1870s the drive led off the Newhouse Road to the east. It followed the west/east field boundary and then suddenly turned to the north and crossed the lawn to the house. After the alterations it followed a slightly longer, more sinuous route from Dorrator Road in the west. This provided a more stately progress and was capped by placing a lodge on the north side of the entrance gate. The lodge was occupied by the gardener who soon started to win prizes for the produce of the estate. At the same time two-storey window bays were added to the south façade of the main house.
McSymon also played an active role in the community and in 1872 became an officer in the 3rd Stirlingshire (Falkirk) Rifle Volunteer Company. However, he did not have long to enjoy his success and died at the beginning of January 1886. Once again the house was for sale and on this occasion the newspaper advertisement illustrates the improvements that had been made to the house over the proceeding decade:
“For Sale by Public Roup, within the Faculty Hall, Saint George’s Place, Glasgow, on Wednesday, 31 February, 1886, at 2 o’clock afternoon (unless previously disposed of by Private Bargain), The Desirable RESIDENCE and GROUNDS known as ARBUTHNOT, which belonged to the late John M’Symon.
The House contains 3 Public Rooms, 5 Bedrooms, Bath-room, W.C., Kitchen, Larder, and Servants’ Room. The Outhouses consist of 2-stalled stable, coach house, hen house, washing house, vinery, peach house, greenhouses (with plants therein), & c. There is a supply of gas and water throughout the whole buildings. The porter’s lodge contains 3 apartments. The ground extends to 5 acres, 3 roods, 1 9 10ths poles, or thereby; the lawn and avenue are beautifully laid out and planted with ornamental trees and shrubs; and there are two fruit and vegetable gardens. The property is well situated, and is within twelve minutes’ drive of Larbert Railway Station. Feu duty, 1d Scots. Proportion of stipend, 1 boll, 3 firlots oatmeal. Upset price, £2,000.”(Falkirk Herald 16 January 1886, 1).
The new owner was Robert Johnstone who had a shop in Buchanan Street, Glasgow, selling, amongst other items, sports trophies. It was during his ownership that a dispute arose between him and Joan Baird of Sunnyside due to the cesspool at Arbuthnot overflowing into the adjacent property (Falkirk Archives a812.11/99). The Medical Officer of Falkirk Parish became involved. Johnstone allowed the Camelon Horticultural Society to use the Policy for its annual show that year and the following two years. The show was not held there in 1889 because Johnstone was preparing to move out of the district and in March 1890 his furniture went up for sale
(see Appendix II).
This time the purchaser was a local man. Alexander Brown was the son of a Falkirk Bairn, though he himself was born in Dunipace. As a young man he went to Slamannan as a merchant/shopkeeper. He made enough money to invest it in an iron foundry and together with two partners purchased the Forth and Clyde Iron Works at Camelon in 1875. He was energetic in promoting the works, making it quite profitable. At Slamannan he had been a member of the School Board for nine years and when he moved to Falkirk in 1890 he served on the Falkirk Parish School board for three years. He also became a Justice of the Peace and a member of St Andrews UP Church.
One of his daughters, Christina Dickson Brown, was married at Arbuthnot on September 1890 to William Millar Wilson MBCM, Airdrie. Other members of the family living there were James Brown, Moses D Brown, Bessie Brown, and Jessie C Brown. Jessie taught at the Sabbath School of the Irving Memorial Free Church and the other teachers were occasionally entertained at Arbuthnot. In June 1894 Jessie married a Sabbath school teacher from St Andrews Free Church in Falkirk, James McIntosh, and he came to stay at the family home which was extended in 1917.
Alexander Brown invested in properties throughout Falkirk and built new housing. In 1907 Arbuthnot Street was created and Alexander Brown was a great advocate for including Camelon in the Burgh of Falkirk, thus ensuring additional facilities for the residents.
The Forth and Clyde Foundry was just on the other side of the railway to the north of Arbuthnot and he was able to maintain amicable relations with his large workforce. On the occasion of the marriage of each of his daughters the workers presented them with tokens of their esteem. On his part Alexander Brown provided the additional housing and helped with the provision of the Sunnyside Working Men’s Club in 1901. The works had amalgamated with the Sunnyside Iron Co in 1898 to become the Forth and Clyde and Sunnyside Iron Company and Alexander’s son, James, became the general manager. Together they guided the foundry to a prosperous period.
Alexander Brown died on 8 May 1922 at the age of 87. His wife had died 18 years before and he left two sons and five daughters. Arbuthnot fell to his son James but the extended family continued to live there. These included Jessie and James McIntosh – both of whom were styled as “of Arbuthnot.” James McIntosh died on holiday at Grantown-on-Spey in September 1929 and Jessie at Arbuthnot in 1945. She left an estate valued at £101,786.
John Alexander Brown was the next owner of Arbuthnot and was also a managing director of the Forth and Clyde and Sunnyside Ironworks. During the Second World War an enhanced provision of nurseries was provided so that women could work for the war effort. Through the agency of the Ministry of Works and Buildings, the Department of Health for Scotland requisitioned ground at Arbuthnot and in July 1942 started to erect a wartime nursery there. It continued in use until around 1999, when it was demolished to make way for housing.
After the war J.A. Brown let his grounds be used for garden fetes to raise money for the Camelon Unionist Association. Such garden parties were great social events and gave the hosts advanced status. The first of these was in 1950.
Sites & Monuments Record
|Arbuthnot||SMR 1369||NS 8752 8056|
List of Owners and Tenants (in red) of Arbuthnot House
|1841||Mary Wordie then Mr Littlejohn|
|1853||James T Wilson|
|1858||W Glendonwyn Scott|
|1859||Ann Waugh & Daniel Fogarty|
|1950s||John A Brown|
Inventory of furniture &c. at Arbuthnot belonging to Patrick Waugh Esq at the time he left Scotland in 1840:
List of furniture sold in April 1890, taken from the Falkirk Herald 12 April 1890, 4: