« PreviousContinue »
became first wife of George, tenth Lord Ross of Hawkhead, Renfrewshire, a family connection to be renewed in after years by the marriage of the Hon. Thomas Cochrane, second son of the present Earl, with Lady Gertrude, eldest daughter of George Frederick Boyle, present and sixth Earl of Glasgow.
Among later members of the family who greatly distinguished themselves were William, seventh Earl, sprung from the Cochranes of Kilmaronock, Dumbartonshire, killed in 1758 when engaged in the siege of Louisbourg; Thomas, of the house of Ochiltree, eighth Earl, engaged in the fight at Prestonpans, and who left at death eleven sons, by his wife Jane, eldest daughter of Archibald Stuart of Torrance. Charles, third son, was killed while serving in America under Sir Henry Clinton; James, fifth son, was vicar of Mansfield, and author of various treatises in theology and chemistry; Basil, also an author, purchased the barony of Auchterarder, Perthshire; while Sir Alexander was a prominent naval officer in his day, and wrote several esteemed books of travel. Archibald, ninth Earl, is now less known for his numerous scientific treatises than as the father of the great Thomas, Lord Cochrane, tenth Earl of Dundonald.
Born in 1775, Lord Cochrane entered the navy when only ten years of age, and while but a youth was promoted by admiral Keith, for exceptionally courageous services, to the command of a sloop of fourteen guns, in which many daring and successful feats were undertaken against Spanish ships of war. Early in 1806, when commanding the Pallas frigate, of 32 guns, he ascended the Gironde, 20 miles above the Cordovan shoals, and boldly cut out a frigate lying under the protection of two heavy batteries. But the crowning achievement of this period (1809) of Lord Cochrane's life, was his attack on the French fleet then being blockaded by Admiral Gambier in the Basque Roads. Here he personally conducted the explosion ship with such terrific results to the enemy that popular enthusiasm was no more than satisfied when he was created a Knight of the Bath. Lord Cochrane had been previously twice returned to Parliament-first for Honiton, and in 1807 for Westminster. Opposing as a Radical Percival's Tory Ministry; and disliked otherwise in Parliament through a misunderstanding of certain charges he had brought against Admiral Gambier, advantage was taken to try, fine, and imprison the gallant officer on a charge, erroneously made, as was afterwards proved, of being mixed up with certain Stock Exchange transactions connected with a false report of Napoleon's defeat by the allies. Lord Cochrane was also deprived of his honours and dismissed the service. Returned again for Westminster, he found it hopeless at the time either to serve his constituents or vindicate himself as he wished, and an offer therefore was gladly accepted to command the Chilian fleet on the coast of South America. The new flag under which he served once more triumphed over Spain, and towards the close of the war of Independence Lord Cochrane passed, with increased honour, into the service of Brazil. In 1830, when the Whigs got into power, and a year before succeeding his father in the Earldom, Lord Cochrane, then looked upon as the victim of party spite, was restored to his rank in the British navy. Years brought additional honours to the harshly used officer, being made a Vice-Admiral in 1847, Commander on the North American and West Indian stations 1848–54, and Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom 1854. Thomas, tenth Earl of Dundonald, died October 31, 1860, leaving by his wife—daughter of Thomas Barnes, Essex-four sons and a daughter. A nephew, Captain J. D. Cochrane, was well known in his day as an eccentric pedestrian traveller over most of the continent of Europe and Siberian Tartary.
The eldest son of Admiral Dundonald, Thomas Barnes, Lord Cochrane, present Earl, born 1814, succeeded on the death of his father, and by marriage (1847) with Louisa Harriet, daughter of W. A. Mackinnon of Mackinnon, his issue two sons and four daughters, the eldest being Douglas Mackinnon, Lord Cochrane, born October, 1852, and married (1858) Winifred, only surviving daughter of Robert Bamford Hesketh, Gwyrch Castle, Denbigh, with issue one daughter, Grizel Winifred Louise, born May, 1880. A second son, the Hon. Thomas Horatio Arthur, late Lieutenant of Scots Guards, born 2nd April, 1857, married 2nd December, 1880, Lady Gertrude Boyle, daughter of George Frederick, 6th and present Earl of Glasgow, with issue Louisa Gertrude, born 8th January, 1882, and Thomas George Frederick, born 19th March, 1883. The Hon. Mr. Cochrane, with Lady Gertrude and family, lately (1884) occupied Hawkhead, the barony brought to the Boyles, Earls of Glasgow, through the marriage of John, third Earl, with Elizabeth, daughter of George, Lord Ross.
COILSFIELD AND THE MONTGOMERIES.
WHETHER the old Eglinton mansion of Coilsfield was renamed altogether out of deference to Burns's fine lines, descriptive of those “banks and braes and streams around the Castle o' Montgomery;" or whether it was to keep fresh those tender memories of “Highland Mary," so closely associated with the house ; or whether it was judged to be a seemly compliment to the name of its early owners—whether for any of these reasons, or for all of them, with others added, the substitution of “Montgomery Castle" for Coilsfield has at least avoided the possible degradation of the name to “Culsfield,” as has happened with a parish only a few miles south, but on the other side of Ayr water. Coylton years ago had degenerated in the common speech of its natives to “Culton," an unmeaning corruption, having no sort of apparent affinity, as it should have, with either Kyle or Coila. Coilsfield itself, as has been mentioned, although nearly in the centre of Kyle district, is not in Coylton, but in Tarbolton parish—on the right bank of the Feale, below the Abbey ruins, greatly altered since Burns's day by modern classic additions, but still embowered in those woods where "Simmer first unfaulds her robes." The traveller in this region of song may catch a glimpse of Montgomery Castle by approaching coastward from Tarbolton village, from which the mansion is distant only a good mile, or, if more convenient, he may travel westward from Mauchline, by way of Failford, a good deal longer but equally romantic route. The estate, within which tradition affirms the remains of “Old King Coil” were laid, is now in the possession of Mr. William Paterson,
Putting aside mere minute genealogical details, with which these sketches are not much concerned, it may be stated generally that Hugh, third Baron of the family, and first Earl of Eglinton, was fourth in the line from that Sir John Montgomery, seventh laird of Eaglesham, who distinguished himself at Otterburn by capturing the fiery Hotspur, as detailed in the familiar old ballad of the fight :
“The Percy and Montgomery met,
That either of other were fain,
The patent of creation in favour of Earl Hugh was dated 20th January, 1508. After him came a succession of four Hughes, all Earls of Eglinton, the last of this early line of Montgomeries, Hugh, fifth Earl, being succeeded in 1612 by his cousin, Alexander Seton, father, among others, of James of Coilsfield, who, by his wife, daughter of John Macdonald, Kintyre, had a son, Hugh, from whom descended the present Earls of Eglinton. Hugh married twice—(1) Jean, daughter of Sir William Primrose, with issue three daughters ; (2) the famous beauty, Katherine Arbuckle, widow of John Hamilton of Letham. By her first marriage Mrs. Hamilton had, among other sons, Basil, who married Margaret, daughter of Clerk of Brackleken, whose family held large estates in Argyllshire as far back as the reign of James II. Their daughter, Bazill, married Captain Henry Beatson, of Glasmont, Fifeshire, grandfather of the Beatsons and Lacys of Campbeltown. By her marriage with Hugh Montgomery of Coilsfield, Katherine Arbuckle bore, with two daughters and three sons, Hugh, who took up the honours of the family on the death (1796) without male issue, of Archibald, eleventh Earl, brother of Alexander, tenth Earl, shot on Ardrossan sands by a poaching exciseman, named Mungo Campbell, as described in a former paper. The elder Hugh of Coilsfield was also father of that James Montgomery, a Lieutenant-General in the army, Grand Master in the masonic lodge of Tarbolton, of which Burns was made Depute-Master, 1784-5. In one of his early Edinburgh letters (March 8, 1787), addressed to Gavin Hamilton, the poet makes reference to his right worshipful brother, the General, in connection with an aliment case before the Supreme Court, of some interest in its day to Ayrshire people.
Coilsfield House, purchased by the Montgomeries from Cunningham of Caprington, is connected with the life of at least two of Burns's heroines. “ Montgomery's Peggy,” whom he had met first at Kirkoswald, when attending Rodger's school, passed afterwards into the Coilsfield family as a housekeeper or upper servant, and permitted herself to be wooed and sung of by the youth of twenty for some six or eight months, when she informed him that her heart had already been given to another. Peggy Thomson, with whom the good lass has been identified, became the wife of a person named Neilson, and lived long in Ayr. But it is with “Highland Mary” that the most tender memories of Coilsfield are entwined. Burns himself threw such an air of mystery and perplexing fancy over his connection with Mary Campbell that little more than surmise regarding either her movements or position is now possible; but it is not going far beyond what is known to presume that some time in the summer of 1785 she passed from service in Gavin Hamilton's house to Coilsfield, there to act as dairymaid, or, it may be, as nurse to some of the younger children of Hugh Montgomery. Within the grounds, and not far from the junction of the Faile with the Ayr, it is almost certain that romantic meeting and parting took place on the second Sunday in May (14th May, 1786), when they swore everlasting fidelity to each other, as recorded in the famous Bibles now appropriately placed in the monument at Brig o' Doon after a curious enough history. This brief episode—for it was little more—in the poet's career, was closed by the death of “Highland Mary” in her father's house at Greenock sometime, it is thought, during the month of October following.
When Hugh Montgomery succeeded as twelfth Earl of Eglinton, only a portion of the then wide estates passed to him with the title, a valuable share falling to Lady Montgomerie, elder and only surviving daughter of the preceding Earl, Archibald. Born in 1739, Hugh Montgomerie entered the army in 1755,