John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore was one of the most famous Scots of his day. In 1754, as Lord Fincastle, he purchased the estates and tower house from the Elphinstones of Airth. There were significant coal measures available and the purchase was probably made as an investment. Two years later when he inherited the title the name of the estates was changed to Dunmore and although he does not appear to have moved to live there, a walled garden was created withan elaborate Italianate doorway bearing the date 1761.
The Earl of Dunmore
In the same year he was chosen as one of the 16 Scottish representative peers in the House of Lords where he remained for 8 years. There followed spells in New York and Virginia colonies as Governor. He campaigned against the Ohio Indians in 1774 in what is still called Dunmore’s War but annoyed the colonists by agreeing a peace treaty which they thought was not to their advantage. The following year he was leading the British Army against the colonial rebels in the War of Independence. His decision to offer slaves their freedom in the King’s name if they joined the redcoat army, the so called Dunmore Proclamation, is regarded by historians of the slave trade as being a significant step towards emancipation. Many slave families were said to have christened their babies Dunmore in his honour!
He returned to Britain in 1776 and it may have been around then that he decided to place the monumental pineapple on top of the garden gateway at Dunmore. He returned to the House of Lords but ten years later in 1787 he returned to colonial service as Governor of the Bahamas where he remained for 9 years. He died in Ramsgate in 1809 and was succeeded by his son Charles, the 5th Earl.
Ian Scott (2005)