Taken from
Issue Number 50 Autumn 2001


Templetons of Kintyre
Maureen Borland

Ever since Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land, men have been fleeing from religious persecution, political tyranny, or simply seeking economic advancement for their families.

The seventeenth century witnessed many such migrations, for all the same reasons as Moses left Egypt. The men of Ayrshire were persuaded by Archibald Campbell, the ninth Earl of Argyll, and his son, Archibald, the first Duke of Argyll, to come to Kintyre. Their invitation was not wholly altruistic - they needed to populate their vast empty land and they needed to recruit an army to fight against their English aggressors, in their battle for the right to worship their God as Presbyterians. The men of Ayrshire, embroiled in the Covenanter Wars, had earned a reputation as doughty fighters when in 1648 they routed John Middleton's superior force at Mauchline Muir.

The first record of a Templeton in Kintyre is one Robert, who was married to Margaret Reid; between 1671 and 1681, they registered the births of three children, while living at Smerbie and Ballimenach farms. Their son Robert married Jean Patown [Paton], and they moved to Crossibeg, where subsequent generations continued to farm until late into the eighteenth century when Robert's son, Thomas, moved to Drumgarve.

Thomas was a redoubtable man; born in 1720, he married twice: Janet Armour and then Agnes Colville, both the daughters of Ayrshire immigrant families. Janet and Agnes were to produce, between them, 21 children, which led their great-grandson, John Stewart Templeton (1832-1918), the senior partner of J J Templeton, carpet-manufacturers, housed in the magnificent Leiper-designed factory, known as Doge's Palace, at Glasgow Green, to claim in 1906 that his great-grandfather Thomas had 99 grandchildren .

It would be a lifetime's work to identify all 99, but a quick check of just four daughters shows the degree to which the Ayrshire migrants married into the families of other Ayrshire migrants. Margaret married Duncan Kelvin in 1789; Jackie married Archibald Galbraith in 1805; Helen married Archibald Greenlees in 1798 and her sister Sarah married Robert Greenlees in 1796 .

Thomas's son Archibald (1765- ) married Anne Harvey in 1795; she was, again, the daughter of migrants, James Harvey and Jean McNair - it would not be too strong to suggest the Ayrshire families did indeed form a sort of migrant ghetto. It is worth noting that Jean McNair's mother was Sarah Templeton.

John Stewart Templeton later said that that very 'ghetto' produced men of outstanding industrial and commercial enterprise. Looking at a list of the nineteenth century industrial entrepreneurs who came from Campbeltown shows that these men had vision and drive. David Colville, born in Campbeltown in 1813, founded the giant steel works at Dalzell. Andrew and Archibald Galbraith became leading cotton merchants and spinners; in 1857 Andrew became Lord Provost of Glasgow. Alexander Fleming became a partner in the iron and coal company of Wm Baird & Co. James Templeton, born in 1802, left Campbeltown to become a shawl-manufacturer in Paisley, before opening his carpet factory in 1838.

It was while manufacturing shawls that James Templeton had the great good fortune to work with a weaver named William Quigley. Quigley, a man of little ambition but with an enquiring mind, found a way of weaving chenille - a velvety cord, made of silk and wool fibres - into a fabric that could be woven into carpets. Templeton and Quigley took out a joint patent, but within a very short time Quigley made over his interest to Templeton.

The new process was immediately successful and in 1841 it was used to manufacture the carpet for St George's Chapel, at Windsor Castle, for the christening of Queen Victoria and Albert's son, the future Edward VII.

Ten years later, the Templeton factory was asked to provide the carpet for the Royal Reception Room at the great 1851 International Exhibition in London. Queen Victoria stood on that carpet to open the Exhibition, after which the carpet was sent to Washington for use in the British Embassy. After some repairs - made at the Glasgow factory in 1930 - the carpet was returned to America and is now an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum.

With such illustrious patronage, the future of the Templeton carpet business was assured. James brought his brothers Archibald (1811-1896) and Nathaniel (1812-1896) into the business. A fourth member of the team was another Campbeltown man, Peter Reid (1801-1881). Interestingly, James and Archibald Templeton and Peter Reid all married Stewart sisters.

James's sons, John Stewart (1832-1918) and James (1838-1921) entered the business during the late 1850s, and it was John Stewart who was most responsible for the growth of the business when he opened a second factory for the manufacture of Brussels and Wilton carpets by the Jacquard principle. In 1881 the company employed over 1100 men, women and girls and were regarded as very enlightened employers.

It was not, however, only to Glasgow that the migrants went; they also went further afield. Thomas (1801-1881), John Templeton and Agnes Colville's son, migrated to Chicago and rose from being a clerk to become a senior partner in Marshall Field, the world's largest departmental store. Thomas married Mary Galbraith, and so the inter-marriage of the Ayrshire families continued, even into the next generation.

The Church also gained much from the influence of Campbeltown men. When another schism took place in the Presbyterian Church in 1843, the great theological teacher, Norman MacLeod - born in Campbeltown on 3 June 1832 - refused to sign the Act of Separation and Deed of Demission. If MacLeod did not join the newly-formed Free Church of Scotland, the Templetons most certainly did. John Stewart Templeton became an Elder and wrote two books on the Creed and the Church. His brother Archibald (1843-1923) was a medical missionary in India, before becoming Superintendent of the Oxford Street Dispensary in Glasgow.

The inter-marriage between the families, did, though, throw up a strange anomaly. Archibald Templeton and Anne Harvey had four daughters, Agnes, Jean, Elizabeth and Ann, and none of them married. Agnes became a schoolteacher, which rather implies that Archibald, in contrast to many nineteenth century fathers, was prepared to educate his daughters as well as his sons. All four died in Campbeltown and are buried in Kilkerran Cemetery, with their niece, Elizabeth Mary Templeton, another schoolteacher, who died in Campbeltown in 1935 at the advanced age of 92.

It is also worth mentioning that when the families did seek their fame and fortune in Glasgow, they tended, yet again, to marry into a very small circle of industrialists and members of the Free Church. For example, John Stewart Templeton married Mary Stephen, the daughter of Alexander Stephen, the ship-builder; his sister Mary married Stephen's son Alexander. They also purchased houses close to each other in the Park Circus district of Glasgow, and their social life was conducted within a tight-knit group centred on the Free Church.

And what happened to those family members who remained in Campbeltown? Archibald's brother John (1761 -) took over the tenancy of Drumgarve, and in consequence Archibald had to look for other means of earning a living. He became a grain merchant, a malster, a saddler; but he died relatively young. The actual date of his death has so far eluded me, but in 1841 his widow, Ann Harvey, was living at Longrow, beside her brother Robert (1785-1867), who was the surgeon/doctor in Campbeltown. He had a· young medical assistant, John Pirie, who married Robert's daughter Jane, and they eventually left Campbeltown for Glasgow, where one of their sons, Robert Harvey Pirie, became a writer \ (solicitor), and he acted for many members of his vast extended family.

Robert's brother Nathaniel (1776-1858), was the local bank agent, and yet another brother Archibald (1793 -) went to London and became a distinguished merchant with the firm of Harvey, Brand & Co. He did not marry, and on his death his not inconsiderable fortune was shared between his siblings; Anne, obviously being his favourite sister, received two shares.

It is obvious, though, that while the Templetons had a deep and abiding love for the land to which their ancestors had migrated, they also had a desire not to break totally with their Ayrshire roots. When Archibald's son, Archibald (1811-1896), retired to Scotland after working as the London representative of J & J Templeton, carpet manufacturers, he called his house, in Rhu, Dumbartonshire, 'Hap land' , after the hamlet in Ayrshire where the family is said to have originated. James (1816-1886), the son of John and Ann Colville, after a career as a West Indian merchant, called his house in Rhu, 'Drumgarve'.

Maureen Borland, 4 Shanter Place, Kilmarnock KA3 7iB. Tel: 01563.524426. I am researching and writing a biographical narrative of the Templeton/Stephen and associate families, and would really appreciate it if any readers have personal and/or family reminiscence of the Templetons of Campbeltown.

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.

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