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Tracing their descent, in common with the Wemyss family, to Duncan, fifth Earl of Fife, the Shaws of Sauchie, Stirlingshire, are early found making alliances with the best families in Scotland. One member, during the fourteenth century, married a daughter and co-heiress of Malcolm Galbraith, described as “of Greenock," but Lennox in descent, and thereby acquired a moiety of the barony known as Wester Greenock, the other co-heiress carrying Easter Greenock into the family of Crawford of Kilbirnie, from whose descendant it was purchased in 1669 by Sir John Shaw. Wester Greenock passed first to a younger son of Shaw of Sauchie, but, on failure of that line, Greenock eventually succeeded to Sauchie, and became chief of the name. John Shaw of Greenock and Sauchie (son of James Shaw of Wester Greenock, by Margaret Montgomery, and grandson of John and Elizabeth Cunningham), was knighted on the field of Worcester, 1651, and created a baronet, 1687. By his wife, Jean Mure, daughter of the house of Rowallan, Sir John left one son, Sir John, second baronet, and five daughters, one of them marrying into the family of Smollett of Bonhill. By Eleanor, eldest daughter and co-heir of Sir Thomas Nicolson of Carnock, as mentioned above, the second baronet of Greenock had issue besides John, his successor, other four sons, all killed in the wars of the Low Countries, and one daughter, Margaret, who in 1714 married Sir John Houstoun, third Baronet of Houstoun. Lady Margaret Houstoun died in 1750, leaving issue one son, Sir John, the fourth and last baronet of Houstoun, who married Eleanora, eldest daughter of Charles, eighth Lord Cathcart, without issue; and two daughters, (1) Helena, who married, as already mentioned, Sir Michael Stewart, third baronet of Blackhall; and (2) Anne, who married Colonel William Cunninghame of Enterkine. Joanna, sister of Margaret, died unmarried. Sir John Shaw, second baronet of Greenock, was succeeded by his son, also Sir John, who in 1700 married Marion (or Margaret), eldest daughter of Lord-President Dalrymple, by whom he had one daughter, Marion, who in 1718 became wise of Charles, eight Lord Cathcart, ancestor of the present AlanFrederick, Earl Cathcart, heir-general of the house of Shaw of Sauchie. Sir John died at Sauchie Lodge, Clackmannan, April 5, 1752, without male issue. The unentailed estate of Sauchie passed to his daughter, Lady Cathcart, while the Greenock, or entailed property, fell to the heir of his sister, Lady Houstoun, John Stewart, eldest son of Sir Michael, third baronet of Blackhall.
John Stewart thus came to represent the families of Nicolson of Carnock, and Houstoun of Houstoun, as well as that of Shaw of Greenock. Sir John ShawStewart, fourth baronet of Greenock and Blackhall, represented Renfrewshire in Parliament from 1785, when William M‘Dowall of Garthland resigned, till his death in 1796, when he was succeeded by Boyd Alexander of Southbar, who held the seat for six years. Dying in 1812, and leaving no issue by his wife, Frances Colquhoun, widow of Sir James Maxwell of Pollock, Sir John was succeeded by his nephew, Michael Shaw-Stewart, only son of Houstoun, younger brother of Sir John, by Margaret, daughter of Boyd of Porterfield.
Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, fifth baronet, Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, and to whom Ardgowan owes many of its charms, married in 1787 his cousin, Catherine, youngest daughter of Sir William Maxwell of Springkell, by whom he had six sons and three daughters, the eldest being Michael-Shaw, sixth baronet referred to below. Houstoun-Stewart, K.C.B., third son, was born at Springkell, 1791, and educated chiefly at Chiswick, near London. Entering the navy when little more than fourteen years of age, he served under the daring Thomas, Lord Cochrane, afterwards tenth Earl of Dundonald. He was at the siege of Flushing (1809), and commanded the "Benbow" at the bombardment of St. Jean d'Acre. In November, 1846, Captain Houstoun-Stewart was appointed Comptroller-General of the Coastguard, an office which he held till February, 1850, when he became a Lord of the Admiralty. In 1851 he attained the rank of Rear-Admiral, and in February, 1852, was elected M.P. for Greenwich, but only retained his place in Parliament till July of that year, and in the following December, on the fall of the first Derby Ministry, Admiral Houstoun Stewart ceased to be a Lord of the Admiralty. In 1855 he was created a Knight-Commander of the Bath, for his services as second in command of the naval forces off Sebastopol in that year. In 1858 he was appointed a Vice-Admiral. Dying December 10, 1875, Admiral Sir Houstoun-Stewart left issue by his wife Martha, daughter of Sir William Miller, Lord Glenlee, among other sons and daughters, the present Sir William HoustounStewart, K.C.B. Entering the navy, like his father, when about fourteen years of age, he served with distinction in operations on the north coast of Spain, 1836–37; in Syrian war, and bombardment of St. Jean d'Acre, 1840; at bombardment of Sebastopol, 1854, and operations in the Baltic, and bombardment of Sweaborg, 1855; was successively Superintendent of Chatham, Devonport, and Portsmouth dockyards, and Comptroller of the Navy. Admiral Stewart was among the few permitted to accompany the Czar's yacht “Lividia" on her first cruise from the Clyde to the Black Sea. Admiral William Houstoun Stewart has been twice married, with issue, besides other sons and daughters, Lieutenant Houstoun, R.N., born 1854.
The fifth son of Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, fifth baronet, Patrick Maxwell, born 1795, sat as M.P. for Lancaster from 1831 till 1837, and for the county of Renfrew from 1841, when he carried the election against Colonel William Mure by a narrow majority, till his decease in October, 1846, when Colonel Mure was elected without opposition.
Sir Michael, sixth baronet of Greenock and Blackhall, eldest son of Sir Michael, fifth Baronet, succeeded Lord Archibald Hamilton in the representation of Lanarkshire, 1827, and held the seat for three years, when he was elected for his native county of Renfrew, in succession to Sir John Maxwell, younger of Pollok.
In the first Reformed Parliament, Sir Michael, who had been a consistent supporter of “the Bill,” was re-elected for Renfrewshire by 700 votes against 412 tendered in favour of R. C. Bontine of Ardoch, and held the seat till his decease in 1836, when it fell to George Houstoun (Conservative), who held it over a second contest till 1841, when Patrick Maxwell Stewart, mentioned above (described as a Liberal) was returned by 959 votes against 945 recorded in favour of Colonel William Mure, Liberal-Conservative. Sir Michael, sixth Baronet, married, 1819, Elizabeth Mary, only child of Robert Farquhar of Newark, and had issue, with other sons and daughters, Robert, the present
Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, born 1826, and, rare in the history of Scottish families, the seventeenth in direct male descent from the John Stewart first mentioned as son of Robert III., whose reign extended over 1390-1406.
Presently Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, Sir Michael succeeded to the representation of the county in Parliament, 1855, when Colonel William Mure accepted the Chiltern Hundreds, and held the seat as a Liberal-Conservative without a contest till 1865, when it was won by Mr. A. A. Spiers of Elderslie (Liberal), with 938 votes against 836 tendered in favour of Sir Michael. Born in 1826, the present Baronet married in December, 1852, Lady Octavia Grosvenor, sixth daughter of Richard, second Marquis of Westminister, K.G., and has had issue five sons and four daughters, the eldest and heir-apparent being Michael Hugh Stewart-Nicolson of Carnock, born with July, 1854, a Captain in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, married, 14th November, 1883, Lady Alice Thynne, daughter of John Alexander, fourth Marquis of Bath.
Among the more recent additions to the Ardgowan property there falls to be mentioned Finnock, Leven, Duchal, Flattertoun, and Dunrod, the latter famous in Renfrewshire history as a resort of witches who kept company with that “auld Dunrod” who sold the barony in 1619 to Archibald Stewart of Blackhall. Making up, as it does, over two-thirds of the parish of Inverkip, Sir Michael's Renfrewshire property is entered in the Parliamentary Return of Owners and Heritages (1874), as consisting of 4,773 acres, with a rental of £13,012, exclusive of £458 for quarries and £700 for minerals.
Note.-It cannot, in the nature of things, happen frequently for the local or family annalist to record events of permanent historic interest as mere news. Yet it would be ungracious, less far than dutiful, not to make special mention of the fact that young Lieutenant Houstoun-Stewart, R.N. (born 1854), mentioned above as son of Admiral Sir William, K.C.B., cousin of the present Sir Michael of Ardgowan, fell in the Soudan so recently as the forenoon of Thursday
(March 13, 1884), while commanding the guns of the Naval Brigade, opened with such stern purpose against the desert troops of Osman Digma, fighting in name of the Mahdi, otherwise known as the False Prophet. Houstoun-Stewart was senior lieutenant at the time of H.M.S. “ Dryad.” Son of Sir William, presently Commander-in-Chief at Devonport, Houstoun-Stewart, who has fallen so nobly, entered the Navy as cadet 1866, became midshipman two years afterwards, and Lieutenant in September, 1876.
POLLOK AND THE MAXWELLS.
Of the five baronetcies held by families named Maxwell—Pollok, Calderwood, Cardoness, Monreith, and Springkell—- the first named has been long esteemed the most ancient, starting as it does with that Aymer de Maxwell (son of Sir John, Sheriff of Teviotdale), who in the reign of Alexander II. appears as witness to a charter proceeding from Walter the Great Stewart, gifting the churches of Dundonald and Sanquhar to the Monks of Paisley Abbey. Aymer, Chamberlain of Scotland (or his son John, for genealogians are not agreed on the point), would appear from such slender evidence as exists to have married Mary, the heiress of Roland of Mearns, and thereby brought into the family that portion of the Renfrewshire property, as well as Nether Pollok, or Polloc, which now makes up a large portion of the parish of Eastwood. Herbert, the eldest son of Aymer, is claimed as ancestor of the Maxwells of Caerlaverock, afterwards Lords Maxwell and Earls of Nithsdale, now represented in pursuance of a decision in the House of Lords (1858) by Marmaduke Constable-Maxwell, baron Herries of Terregles. From John, second son of Aymer, the family of Nether Pollok would appear to be more immediately descended. His name appears as witness to two donations of land in the Mearns which Herbert gave to the monks of Paisley in the end of the thirteenth century. In one deed the Abbey Cartulary makes mention of