Taken from
Issue Number 16 Autumn 1984


James Stewart - Fact of Fiction Another Dunaverty Mystery
A. I. B. Stewart.

"Cuthbert Bede" hid the identity of the Rev. Edward Bradley of Grantham, a Victorian clergyman who spent many summers in Kintyre and published several very readable volumes of which "Glencreggan, a Highland Home· (1861) and Argyll's Highland's published in 1906, long after his death, are the best known.

In each he purports to tell in different terms the story of the survival of Captain James Stewart of the Blackhall family, of the massacre at Dunaverty, Southend, Kintyre, in the early summer of 1647. Quoting Lord Teignmouth (Sketches of the Coasts and Islands of Scotland - 1836) he says in Glencreggan "A fine young Highlander sprang from the rook to reach a boat containing some of the fugitives when Argyll, compassionating him interceded with Leslie on his behalf. His name was Stuart (sic); he proved grateful to his protector and became his first factor, for by this conquest Argyll became possessed of Kantyre and divided it among the Campbell's." Argyll, of course, had finally got a title to Kintyre in 1607.

Although in ·Glencreggan" the author correctly quoted Sir James Turner, the narrator of the only surviving eye witness account, to the effect that all the garrison "were put to the Sword except one young man McKoull, whose life I begged to be sent to France, * he overlooks this in "Argyll's Highlands" where he writes

"The one person who has been mentioned as having been spared is said to have been James Stewart of the Blackhall family who, when about to be put to death requested leave first to read his Bible. Stewart of Ardvoirlich was an officer under Leslie and interceded for his life which vas granted and he lived to be the ancestor of many respectable families in Cantyre."

It was certainly the case that several respectable Stewart families in Kintyre claimed to be descended from the Blackhall family. The most detailed ancestry is given in a handwritten note inserted in the pages of Dunoon Stewart's genealogy of the Stewarts, dealing with Blackhall in the library of the Stewart Society. The note states "Burke's Landed Gentry 1843 under 'Galbraith' Daniel Galbraith who married in 1765 Margaret dau. of Archibald Stewart (sic.) of Askomilbeg, a grandson of James Stewart of the Family of Stewart of Blackhall, an officer of Montrose's army and a devoted Royalist who fled to Kintyre after the defeat of Philiphaugh in 1647. By this marriage alone survive at present (1843) David Stewart Galbraith and his brother Daniel who married Miss Macdonald of Scothouse, cousin germain to the late Glengarry."

There follows a short family tree in which the places of the two Archibald Stewarts have obviously been transposed, as follows:

  1. James Stewart (details as above) -
  2. Archibald Stewart, Esq., of Askomilbeg, m. Flora Macalister.
  3. Archibald Stewart.
  4. Margaret m. Daniel Galbraith in 1765.

The descendants of the Rev. Charles Stewart (1682-1165) Minister of the Highland or Gaelic speaking Church in Campbeltown from 1108 till his death claimed that he was the son of an Archibald Stewart who in turn was the son of Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall.

This is obviously inaccurate, at least on the basis of the published genealogies.

The examination of the genealogy of David Stewart Galbraith gives more definite results. He was a native of Killean Parish, Kintyre, and was a writer or solicitor in Campbeltown, in the early part of the nineteenth century and was known as "Factor Galbraith." He owned the four markland of Drumore and the three markland of Ballegreggan in the immediate vicinity of Campbeltown and also the estate of Machrihanish about five miles distant but these were lost when he was sequestered in 1852. The marriage of the parents of his mother Margaret Stewart is vouched by the tombstone erected to them by her brother Archibald, Tacksman of Refleuch, which stands in Killean Churchyard and reads as follows: "In 1762 erected to the memory of Arch. Stewart, Tacksman of Uledale and his wife Flora McAlister, daughter of Hector Maclister Esq., of Askomilbeg by their son Arch. Stewart, Tacksman of Riefleuch who died 1st May 1788 aged 80. David Stewart, his youngest son died 29th June 1815 aged 52."

This is more accurate than the 1843 handwritten note above referred to, in that Askomilbeg was never a Stewart property, though it did belong to Macalisters who obtained possession on the marriage of Archibald Macalister to Finvella Boyle, granddaughter of Joyn Boyle of Ballochmartin, to whom it had been feued by the Earl of Argyll in 1609 as a first step to setting up the Burgh of Campbeltown. It ~remained in Macalister hands till 1745, though the titles do not show Hector as proprietor. Archibald, Tacksman of Uledale, in Killean Parish, is also referred to in the Kintyre Presbytery Minutes in 1755 as "an honest and discreet man" appointed with another to view the manse and glebe of Killean with a view to improvements.

The Galbraith note states that Uledale's father was Archibald Stewart without giving any further indication of his identity. While there is no direct proof, I suggest that all the evidence points to Archibald Stewart, Tacksman at different times of Tangie, Corputechan, The Drum and The Ballergies - all farms on the West Coast of Kintyre as the father both of Archibald, Tacksman of Uledale and of the Rev. Charles. This Archibald first appears on the record in Kintyre in 1683 and survived there till at least 1712 when he served with heads of leading families on a Justiciary Court Jury.

In 1693, described as "in Drum" he acted as cautioner in a Bond for good behaviour by John McNeill, Tacksman of Lochorodale who, along with many other dependants of Argy~1, were asked on the occasion of his forfeiture by the Crown in 1681 to give such security. In 1693, described as "in Tangie" he got a Tack of Corputechan and was made leading elder of the Killean congregation. In 1709 he is described as "in Ballergiemore" and took a tack of the farms now known as the Drum and Ballergies. In the same year a son Patrick Stewart, took a tack of the half merkland of Strathmollich and Archibald and Robert Stewart described as sons of John Stewart in Ballergiebeg took a tack of half of the three merkland of Putachantuy in Killean Parish. I suspect that John may be an error here for "Archibald" as there is no trace of a contemporary John in that farm. In 1692 in a return of Fencible men he is shown as Tacksman of the Drum and the two Ballergies.

The Rev. Charles appears to have been a local man. He is mentioned in the Kintyre Presbytery Minutes of 23rd June 1706 as Master Charles Stewart and was given a subject on which to address the Presbytery, namely "De existentia Dei num possit demonstrari invicte adversus Atheos." He apparently succeeded because he was licensed in 1708 and ordained in his one and only charge, the Highland Kirk in Campbeltown in 1709. The names given to his sons are of interest. His oldest son was Archibald who was a surgeon and died young. It would be in accordance with tradition if he were called after his paternal grandfather, who I have suggested was the Tacksman of the Drum. His second son was Peter, who could have been called after his uncle Patrick, the Tacksman of Strathmolloch, If I am right in thinking 'John' a mistake for 'Archibald' then Robert, the third son, could have been called after his uncle in Putchantuy, while Archibald, the co-tenant of that farm could well have been the eventual Tacksman of Uledale who fathered Archibald, Refluch, in 1708, according to the tombstone already mentioned. Bone of Charles' four sons was named John after the maternal grandfather, John Campbell of Kildalloig, but his fourth son, Dugald, may have honoured an uncle, the Rev. Dugald Campbell, Minister of Southend, Kintyre.

There is a whisper of a Blackhall connection.

In 1681 the Earl of Argyle had been condemned to death and forfeited. The administration of the Kintyre Estates was entrusted to John Boyle of Kelburn, father of the first Earl of Glasgow. Correspondence between A. Stewart, Ardgowan, presumably Sir Archibald Stewars, First Baronet of Ardgowan and Blackhall, and Boyle of Kelburn survives and in a letter dated 22nd August 1685 Ardgowan introduces the bearer "a friend and relation of his uncle Lord Polmais" and asks Boyle to help about the business of his father's lands in Kintyre. The reference to Lord Polmais is tantalizing. There was no peer with that title and it can only refer to John Murray, Laird of Touchadam and Polmaise. So far as I know, they had no Kintyre property and see no marriage connection of a sister with a Stewart to give a Stewart nephew in Kintyre, though one may well have existed.

Of course Stewart Hall was also known as Wester Polomaise and Anne Stewart, sister if the 2nd and 3rd Baronets of Ardgowan and Blackhall married her cousin Archibald Stewart of Stewart Hall, Solicitor General in 1720 and the second son of Archibald Steward, the first Baronet, but even Walter would be at least a generation too young. There certainly was a Stewart Hall connection in Kintyre in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Even if Archibald, Tacksman of the Drum is accepted as the father of Archibald, Uledale, and the Rev. Charles, there is not a thread to connect him with James, the alleged Dunaverty survivor, nor indeed is there any real evidence of James' very existence.

As already mentioned, Sir James Turner, the only eyewitness whose evidence survives, says the only survivor of the garrison was one McCoull. He was a real life character, McDougall of Dunolly, and he is on record as having subsequently raised an action of damages arising out or the happenings at Dunaverty.

There was no James Stewart, Factor of the Kintyre Estates after 1647. One James Stewart, probably of Ascog in Bute was factor for Lord Kintyre and for Lord Lorne from 1626 to 1636 and in 1636 received a sasine if the three merkland of Eskamulmoir for service and a yearly rent of 6/8d. He had probably died by 1651/52 as rental for that year shows the lands of Acharoy (Southend) 'poessesst by James Stewart's dochter during My Lord's pleasure freely."

Incidentally, in 1665, the Earl leased Ackamulmore to Captain John Stewart for behalf and in name of James Stewart has brother out of the affection he has and bears to them. The lease was to Captain John for his life and after his decease to James for his life. It was subject to an existing tack to James Brown, the occupier.

The only other contemporary namesake I have found in local records is a James Stewart who was appointed an elder in Killean Kirk in 1657, and who witnessed instruments in 1658. He is not further designed.

As far as I have been able to trace, there was not strangely enough perhaps, a Captain James Stewart in the Royalist Army.

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, is the fact that no James Stewart of the Blackhall family who was in the prime of manhood in 1647 is shown in the published genealogies. This of course is not conclusive, as not all children are named in each generation .

I hope that someone else may take up this puzzle and in due course confirm the belief of David Stewart Galbraith and the Revd. Charles Stewart of their Blackhall and thus Royal Ancestry.

Note by A. McE

As the local ploughing match has just taken place - needless to say with tractors - it might be interesting to read the account of ploughing matches in 1811 from the minutes of the Kintyre Farmers' Society.

"Yearly premiums for the best specimen of ploughing with two horses without a driver in the District of Kintyre given by the Noble Family of Argyle for these sixteen years past.

The competition this year for the South Division took place on the fifteenth February when forty four ploughs started after the ground being marked out in the usual stile upon the lands of Lephenstrath in presence of judges appointed by the farming society of Kintyre when the first premium of two pounds ten shillings was awarded to John McDonald son of James McDonald tenant in Dunglass the second of one pound ten shillings sterling to Archibald Brown tenant in Cattadale and the third of one pound sterling to John Greenlees* son of George Greenlees tenant in Machribeg with three shillings and two shillings from the society to each of the unsuccessful candidates.

That for the north division of the said district having taken place in the same stile and manner upon the lands of Machreyhanish upon the nineteenth of the said month when 35 ploughs started the highest premium of 2 pounds 10 shillings sterling was awarded to Walter MacFarlane Junior in Kilkivan. The second of 1 pound 10 shillings sterling to Allan MacLean Junior in Aross and the third of one pound sterling to Alexander MacWilliam Junior in Drum with the like sums as above to each of the unsuccessfull candidates which sums were instantly Paid on the field."

*John Greenlees, above, became one of the pioneers of the Argyle Settlement at Rockford, Illinois. A. McE.

Copyright belongs to the authors unless otherwise stated.

The Kintyre Antiquarian & Natural History Society was founded in 1921 and exists to promote the history, archaeology and natural history of the peninsula.
It organises monthly lectures in Campbeltown - from October to April, annually - and has published its journal, 'The Kintyre Magazine', twice a year since 1977, in addition to a range of books on diverse subjects relating to Kintyre.

CLICK HERE for Correspondence and Subscription Information.

ISSN 0140 0762

To visit some of my index pages,
choose from this drop down list, and click GO:
HTML-Kit Button