NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY
When the Editor of this magazine asked me to do an article on the Armours in Kintyre, I turned to the research work of my father who kept a record of the first Armours to arrive in Kintyre, and of his own branch of that family.
James Armour came from Ayrshire about 1665, and farmed at Trodigal Farm near Drumlemble. He married Janet Clark, and they had five sons and one daughter: Walter born 22nd September 1672, James born 15th August 1675, William born 7th October 1676, Edward born 29th October 1878, Mary born 11th Sept 1681 and John born 18th March 1683.
I take it that all the Armours in Kintyre and those who emigrated are descended from the above family. My branch of the family can be traced to James born 15th August 1675, who had six sons: James and Robert (twins), Peter, David, Edward and Alexander. James, my ancestor, who was a malster in Campbeltown, married Florence Stewart; and had a family of two sons and two daughters: Agnes, Margaret, Alexander (who died young) and John born 2nd October 1750, who was a cooper in Campbeltown and had shares in several fishing vessels, and was apparently quite well off. This John who died at the age of 39 married Isabel Colvill, and had three sons and four daughters: James, John, Janet and Robert. I do not know the dates of the daughters' birth but the Robert who was born in 1787, was my great grandfather, and started the business which lasted till 1984.
Robert learned the coppersmith trade in Greenock, and as there was a demand for small stills to make whisky for personal consumption and for sale by the so-called smugglers as they were then called, as well as for their own use, started the business in Campbeltown. He married Mary Porter, eldest daughter of farmer John Porter of Crossibeg Farm, and had a family of five sons and four daughters. The eldest son, Alexander, apparently was drinking to excess in his young days, and I have a letter, dated 1842, to his father
Father as I see it there is no hope of working here and I thought I should go to the South Country there is little prospect of getting work there in the state trade is in there at present. Would you be so good as to spare as much as would take me to America along with these two lads Mitchell and Marshall who are to sail on the 15th of this month. Besides my passage money I would not need many articles Father as an outfit I only ask you to give me something to carry me further into the country I hope you will take this into your favourable consideration as I see no other place that I can better myself in at present.
I will give you a receipt for whatever you may advance for me and if ever I have it in my powers I will return it, at any rate you will never be traoubled with me further dear Father my hope is that you will do this much for me once more.
This was the letter to his Father who did advance his fare and he went to America and as some of the Porters of Crossibeg had already got to America he contacted them, and eventually married his cousin, Mary Porter, and got on quite well in the end. One of his family visited my father here in Campbeltown in 1925 but we have lost touch with the younger generation since then.
I have the still book of my Great Grandfather, which gives some of the customers who bought small stills from him: Hector & Neil Mc Eachran, Sandy Thomson, Donald McCallum, William Wallace, and Neil Watson in Tirfergus. They apparently had a syndicate and made whisky to sell and for their own consumption. This was in 1815, the year of Waterloo. In 1816, John Kelly, Alexander Campbell, Archibald Boyd at Knocknaha also had a still made. In 1817, Charles Kelly at Lochorodale had a still made. There are many more names in the books, for hardly a farmer or the men employed on the farm but had a still as a side line.
Alexander's younger brother, Robert, my grandfather, carried on the coppersmith business, and his sons, Archibald, my father, and Robert, after him. In 1948 the business of Robert Armour & Sons ceased to exist.
This is a sort of family history of a very small part of the Armours, but so far as I know the original Armours came from Stewarton in Ayrshire. It is an Ayrshire name, and the famous Robert Burns married Jean Armour, and so making the name known to all Scots scattered allover the world.
The George Armour who went to America and started the famous Armour beef business left Campbeltown for America in 1834. His brother John went into the grain business and also became a millionaire. The latter's son, Norman Armour was Ambassador for the U.S.A. to Canada in the 1930's, and corresponded with my father.
There are a number of Armours in the Chicago area and all seem to have done well, as also the numbers in Canada. One of the latter, Mrs. Champion, visits Kintyre regularly and keeps in touch with her relations here. So from the original James Armour, farmer in Trodigal, and Janet Clark his wife there are many Armours allover the world, and, of course very many in Kintyre.
The Revd. Charles Stewart (born 1682),
Minister of the Highland Church in Campbeltown,
from 1708 till his death in 1765, married
Annabell Campbell, the daughter of John Campbell
of Killdalloig, by his marriage with Elizabeth,
daughter of Lauchlan McNeill Buidhe of Tirfergus,
founder of the families of Ugadale and Lossit.
The Highland Manse produced a remarkable family
who are enumerated in the MacNeal genealogy
compiled in 1748 by Annabell's brother,
Archibald Campbell of Danna, Sheriff Clerk of
Argyll as follows:-
(1) Archibald Stewart, a surgeon who died unmarried.
(2) Peter Stewart, Writer in Campbeltown.
(3) Robert Stewart, a Storekeeper in Virginia.
(4) Dugald Stewart, Merchant in Campbeltown
(5 ) Elizabeth, married to Mr. Robert Thomson, Minister in Killean, died without issue.
(6) Allice, died unmarried.
(7) Mary, unmarried, and
(8) Annabell, married to Robert Stewart, Merchant in Campbeltown.
Robert, described in 1748 as being a. storekeeper in Virginia, in 1754 exchanged the abacus for the sword and, joined the 1st Virginian Regiment. In 1755, he commanded a troop of Light Horse under the British General Edward Braddock, to whom George Washington was aide, in the disastrous opening action of the Seven Years War. The Battle of the River Monongahela or Fort Duquesne was a disaster. Braddock, a brave officer but completely unused to jungle warfare was ambushed by the French and Indians while crossing the river with colours flying and band playing. He had paid no heed to the advice of the Virginians who had experience of fighting Indians. Stewart's troop acted as a body guard to the General who, in the action, was remounted four times by Stewart who himself had two horses killed under him. The army retreated and Braddock, who was mortally wounded, would have been left to the fate of a prisoner of the Indians, had not Captain Stewart assisted by four of his troopers, carried him from the field. General Braddock died of his wounds a few days later, murmuring "we'll know better how to deal with them next time."
Captain Stewart was eventually promoted Lieutenant Colonel and formed a firm friendship with Washington, with whom he continued in correspondence even after he had returned to England, and Washington became President of the United States. Some 121 letters between the friends survive in the Library of Congress. They cover the period 1755-1784. They were obviously on intimate terms and Stewart visited Washington at Mount Vernon. When the War of Independence broke out, Stewart, who had returned to this country, endeavoured "to remove the very erroneous opinions the Ministers of that day had formed of the General's Character and military abilities." Unfortunately other advice prevailed. Towards the end of the war he was brought to London from Scotland to be sent with overtures for peace to General Washington but indecision and the resignation of the Ministers prevented this happening.
In 1763 British settlers were required for lands in Canada taken from the French. Among these was St. John's, now Prince Edward Island, and in a lottery held in 1767 Stewart along with Captain Allenby R.N. obtained a grant of 20,000 acres there. He never took personal occupation having accepted the post of Comptroller of Customs in Jamaica where it appears his health deteriorated.
In 1783 he wrote his old friend, now President Washington, asking for an appointment as Ambassador or Military Attaché to one of the European Courts but the President replied that such posts were, naturally enough, reserved for those who had fought for the Colonies in the War of Independence. Colonel Stewart died at Hampstead in January 1809 and was buried in the vaults of St. James' Chapel, Tottenham Court Road.
His oldest surviving brother Peter Stewart (1725-1805) after attending Edinburgh University Practised as a lawyer in Campbeltown. His copy of "Lectures on Rhetoric by Dr. Hugh Blair" written in a beautiful script survives. He was Provost of Campbeltown between 1757 and 1769. The Minutes of the Town Council of 29th September 1775 baldly announce that he had left the town. In addition to his law practice had had been engaged in partnership with his sister's Annabella's Husband, Robert Stewart, in an unsuccessful fish merchanting business.
The sad story of this venture is told in a letter dated 22nd August 1775 from his kinsman Hector McAllister (another descendant of Lauchlan of Tirfergus) in Arran to his brother in North Carolina reporting the death of Hector's brother-in-law Fullerton of Corse in Arran. The latter's father had given security for debts of a fishing company in Campbeltown. "Provost Peter Stewart of Campbeltown, our cousin, and Robert Stewart that is married to the Provost's sister had the management of the company concern. They are both left the country and gone to the Island of St. John's on the coast of North America and have left security of my father-in-law to a considerable amount behind them for which I am to be distressed."
Peter had married Helen daughter of the chief of Clan Mackinnon in 1758. Her father had been taken prisoner shortly after parting from Prince Charles Edward in 1746 by yet another descendant of Lachlan McNeill Buidhe of Tirfergus, namely Lachlan McNeill, Surveyor of Customs at Campbeltown and an officer on General Campbell's staff, searching the Highlands for the Prince.
Peter Stewart had heard from his brother Robert that the post of Chief Justice of Prince Edward Island was vacant and having secured the post he set out with his wife and family for the New World to join his sister Annabella and her husband who with their children had preceded them in 1770. A vivid account of the voyage in 1775 and subsequent shipwreck was left by his daughter Penelope who in due course married the first James McNutt (See footnote).
They sailed from Greenock in the last week of July in an English, brig chartered by her father with an English crew accompanied in addition to the family and servants by "several of my father's people who intended settling in the Colony, for he had two townships granted him by King George III. We had made ample provision for ourselves and added an additional supply of pork and oatmeal, sufficient to last two years................ Although I was only ten years old I felt very lonely on leaving dear old Scotland and the well beloved home that I shall never forget."
The weather during the voyage was "capricious" and an error in navigation brought the vessel to the north, instead of the south coast of the island where the ship was driven ashore in a heavy gale. Fortunately as it happened the ship soon broke up bringing wreckage and casks of beef, oatmeal and flour on to the shore. Two encampments "one for our family and attendants, the other for the ship's company and emigrants" were erected and provided adequate protection. Her brothers attempted to penetrate the forest but because of the depth of snow and severe frost this was impossible.
They were saved by an Indian hunter who with snowshoes could travel 40 miles per day. He advised them of their position and told them he'd return in the Spring. A couple of weeks after the cries of geese announced the advent of Spring, the Indian appeared and conducted Peter Stewart in his canoe to Malpeque, 40 miles across the Island.
Penelope concludes by stating that it was towards the end of June, eleven months after leaving Scotland, some five months of which were spent in frozen isolation, that a schooner arrived and took them to Charlottetown P. E. I.
Dugald, the Rev. Charles' youngest son, and apparently a "stickit minister" had become master of his own brigantine the "Annabella" in which he conveyed his sister Annabella and her husband Robert and family along with many Kintyre settlers to Prince Edward Island in 1770. Among the names of passengers were Galbraith, McMillan, McNeill, Montgomery, McGougan, McArthur, McDougall and McKay. Dugald Ramsay's ancestor who had been a tenant of "Baron" Neal McNeal of Ugadale was also with them. (See footnote.) Dugald Stewart (1730-1791) continued seafaring and died in London in 1791 of a stroke sustained shortly after the arrival from Leghorn of his ship Endeavour which was owned by a Mr. Cambridge. (Could this have been a Kintyre McCambridge?)
Annabella's husband Robert (1731-1787) was a grandson of the Revd. Dugald Stewart of Rothesay and a cousin of the distinguished Mathematician and Philosopher Professor Dugald Stewart of Edinburgh University. He became the first speaker of the P.E.I. Parliament founded in 1773 and up till his death was recognised as the leader of the community.
Mary, stated to be unmarried in 1740 was the only one of the family to remain in Scotland. She married about 1765 the Rev. George Robertson whose presentation in 1766 to the Lowland Kirk by the Duke of Argyll against the wishes of the members was the occasion of the secession of most of the congregation and the setting up of the Relief or Longrow Kirk.
Peter had seven children by his first marriage and four by his second. Dugald is only known to have had one daughter. Annabella had eight children. Descendants of these Stewarts are known to have lived all over the English speaking world.
This article was stimulated by "Malpeque and its people" published by the Historical Society of this little Canadian Community and by the late Mr. Dugald Ramsay to whom it is dedicated. I am indebted to Mr. James McNutt for permission to quote from it and to Mr. Donald Stewart of Charlottetown, P.E.I. who although of Perthshire stock has done much research on the Campbeltown Stewarts and has provided me with the bulk of the material on which the short biography of Colonel Robert is based and also with Penelope's account of the voyage and shipwreck.
Copyright belongs to the authors unless otherwise stated.
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