Taken from
Issue Number 61 Spring 2007


The Life and Times of Andrew Ronald
by Elizabeth Marrison

The son of William Ronald and Jean Gibson, Andrew was born in Old Cumnock, Ayrshire, around 1810, the fourth of eight children. William was a weaving and sewing agent. The first official mention of Andrew was in the 1841 Census of Old Cumnock, where, at 30 years of age, he was described as a limestone mason, probably working at nearby Benston Quarry and living at Taiglim Lots. Previous to this he had married an Agnes Howat, but she died young, perhaps as a result of childbirth. The baby too died, at the age of nine months. Family history recounts that he was a miner in the Cumnock area and then a carting contractor in the Glasgow area, but I have been unable to find any evidence of this.

Andrew married again: an Anne Reid, daughter of John Reid and Margaret McCartney. There is no record of this marriage, but it was probably about 1838 and in Glasgow, as her father was then residing at Pollokshaws. Her older sister, Euphemia, had married a Robert Jardine and moved to New Brunswick, Canada, and her younger sister, Margaret, a spinster, ran the Glasgow Railway tearooms where she proved to be a successful businesswoman. Margaret died aged 95, in 1909, and left legacies to her nieces and nephews in New Zealand.

In 1839, John Reid, Andrew's father-in-law, took the tenancy of Dunglas Farm in the Parish of Southend from the Duke of Argyll. Three years previously, the two farms of East and West Dunglas had been amalgamated. John appears to have thrown himself into the community of the area. He joined the Relief Church, known as St Columba's Church, becoming an elder, and in January 1846 he was one of the first Directors of the Relief Church Missionary Society. This Society contributed to various missions throughout the world as well as helping with the school fees of local children. In 1852, they had a public collection for Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The Society continued until 1914. The other church in the parish, St Blaan's, also contributed to the poor. Recorded in their Minute Book in 1847 was the following: ' ... the painful fact that a large number of the poor children are not sent to school, due to the inability to pay school fees or want of clothes ... part of the congregational fund might be wisely used to provide shoes and clothing.'

My father, Alex Ronald, recalls being told that John Reid brought Andrew down to Southend to teach him farming. This would have been about 1849. They lived together for a few months at Dunglas and in 1850 John Reid took out the lease of nearby Low Brunerican Farm and the pendicle of Inishrael for his son-in-law, acting as guarantor, at an annual rent of £115. The Duke of Argyll reserved the power to resume possession of six acres of the holm land adjoining the village, for the purpose of being let to the surgeon residing in said parish. In 1857, at the end of his lease of Dunglas, he was asked to pay an additional £33 'because he had ploughed and sowed with corn and beans a field of 11 acres which should have been grass'. John Reid then moved to Irvine, Ayrshire, where he lived at Willowbank until his death in 1865.

Low Brunerican consisted then of 133 Scots acres or 167 Imperial acres and was the larger of the two Brunericans. Complaints had been made in 1782 of damage to the arable land there, caused by the overflowing of the Coniglen River and by wind-driven sand. As a result of this, the course of the river was straightened, between 1798 and 1818, and willows were planted along its banks.

In a letter written by Anne, in March 1850, to her husband's brother, John Ronald in Townhead, Cumnock, she states: ' This is as pleasant a situation as could be found and we are all agreeing with it. We have 30 acres ploughed and will sow about 15 acres of beans. We will plant 6 acres of potatoes. I cannot tell what acres of oat, barley and wheat. My father and Andrew sorts well. He allows him to do mostly as he likes ... Fine scope for fishing here ... We are much pleased with Mr. Campbell, minister. He leaves no stone unturned to teetotal the young. He goes to school and bids the children to ask their parents to allow them to abstain. We and 3 horses, 1 cow and 2 hens and 1 ploughman are all living in the "Brunerican" potato house. We have men and horses occasionally from "Dunglas" besides. By and by we will be better housed ... All the children are fresher and their mother thinks improved since we came here. I am much fatter and enjoying good health. Andrew is also doing well .. .' I don't know why they were living in the 'potato house', but by 1861 they were in a four-roomed farmhouse.

Neil Ronald, late of Dalmore, told me once that the family grew potatoes and would throw the 'shaws' (stalks) on to the ground where the 13th and 14th fairways of Dunaverty Golf Course now are, as previously this was part of the farm of Low Brunerican. This was probably done to help fertilise the very sandy soil found there.

Anne died in 1854 of consumption, leaving a family of eight children, the youngest only 10 months. Andrew appears to have had no money as it was her father who buried her and erected the gravestone in Keil Cemetery. Two of the younger children, Jean and James, went to live with their grandfather, John Reid, in Irvine, and his second wife, Margaret Crichton, and were subsequently said to have been better educated. A descendant in New Zealand once mentioned that John Reid's father was a wealthy man and had left £40,000 to endow schools for girls in Irvine, but I have been unable to verify this.

Andrew also joined St Columba's, now a United Presbyterian Church, and there are records of him paying 3s for seats in the gallery, and in the following year 6s for two sittings downstairs. In the early 1850s there was a Total Abstinence Society in Southend, attached to the church, and Andrew became one of the office-bearers. The committee were encouraged to be stricter in reporting those who violated the pledge and were also to encourage the young to join the Society. They would receive a certificate with the following words: 'Southend Total Abstinence Society. I voluntarily promise to abstain from Ale, Porter, Cyder, Wine, Ginger Cordial, Ardent Spirits and all other Intoxicating Liquors, and that I will discountenance all the causes and practices of Intemperance.' This they then signed, admitting them to the Society. 637 were listed on the roll of abstainer-members in the mid-1800s. The Society continued into the 1900s, at that time meeting in the schoolhouse. This may have been the same society as St Columba's Lodge of Good Templars.

In 1860 Andrew married his third wife, a widow called Elizabeth Hannah. She was a spirit dealer who ran a public house at Knocknaha, where her father, John Wilson, had been the miller up until 1858. Elizabeth had at least two children from her first marriage: Ann, born in 1840 in Dairy, and Elizabeth, born in 1842. I don't know what happened to Ann, but Elizabeth died aged 2 years and 10 months and is buried in Kilkerran. Elizabeth herself died in 1874.

In 1868, the Duke of Argyll decided to merge the two farms of Low and High Brunerican, and a new farmhouse was built. As the McKerral family had been farming Brunerican for over 200 years, they were allowed to continue, and the Ronalds, who had only ever had one 19-year lease, had to look elsewhere. High Brunerican was converted into one-room and two-room cottages. Andrew took up the tenancy of the only other farm on offer, Pennysaeroch, which at that period was also part of the Duke of Argyll's Estates. In March, 1869, 37 of his friends and well-wishers gave him a complimentary day's ploughing on the farm.

A few years after the death of his third wife, Andrew went on a world cruise, when he called on his son in Canada and his daughters and sons in New Zealand. On the way home, a Chinese artist painted his portrait in oils and this currently hangs in the hall of my parents' farm at Kilmashenachan, in Southend Parish. On his return to Southend he brought home a blonde stewardess, but apparently this did not go down well with the family as my great-grandfather, Sandy, chased her off.

Of his family of eight, the oldest was John Reid Ronald, born in 1839 in Old Cumnock. He was educated first at Southend School and then in Glasgow, staying with his late mother's family. He studied for the ministry, but did not remain for his final year, deciding instead to sail to Canada and join his mother's sister and husband in New Brunswick, where they had a large wholesale and retail business, Jardine & Co. In 1859 he became a registered 'Freeman of Saint John'. A son of his, John, when aged 13, sailed to Scotland on the steamer SS Scotia, which was one of the first vessels built for the Anchor Line. It took him about 20 days to cross the Atlantic. He came here, aged 13, to get an education. In a letter home to his father, he complains of being kept home from school to work on the farm. He stayed in Scotland for four years and 10 months.

William emigrated to New Zealand in 1862 on the Lady Egida, though he had originally intended to emigrate to Canada to join his brother, John. In his memoirs, written in 1914, he wrote: 'My father and some of my family saw me off at Campbeltown on my short voyage to Glasgow where I was met by my grandfather, John Reid. He gave me £22 and put his hand in his waistcoat pocket and took out his big silver watch and chain and gave it to me together with plenty of good advice, one bit of which was not to trade at any time with the demon, strong drink. We arrived at Port Chalmers after a fair passage of 116 days. I was not an immigrant and paid my own passage.' He settled at Waianawa, Southland, where he specialised in rearing fat cattle for the market. He was a total Abstainer and a member of the Order of Good Templars. He married Charlotte Elizabeth Wilson and they had a large family. He revisited Kintyre in 1886 and 1898.

Margaret, Andrew's oldest daughter, in 1861 married Duncan McDiarmid, a cartwright at Machrimore Mill. He was the son of Peter, a police constable, and Marion McNeill. Duncan and Margaret emigrated to New Zealand in 1863 on the Helenslea and had 11 children. It was reputed that rabbits first arrived in New Zealand on the same voyage and I found mention recently that the ship stopped at Bluff on route to Port Chalmers, and '4 rabbits were released with speeches and champagne in sandhills near Invercargill'.

Jean was born in 1848 in Old Cumnock. She was brought up by her grandfather, John Reid, after the death of her mother. She can be found in the 1861 Census as a 13-year-old with her brother William, aged 7, living at Willowbank, Irvine. Educated at Irvine Academy, she later returned to her father in Southend. In 1870 she married Duncan MacPherson, son of Dugald MacPherson, postmaster in Southend. At the time of his marriage, Duncan was a lightkeeper at Sumburgh Lighthouse in the Shetlands. After the birth of their son Dugald in 1872, they emigrated from Greenock to New Zealand on the Sir James Nicol Fleming to join her brother, William. They took up farming, calling their farm Annfield, which I suspect was in memory of her mother. An older MacPherson had once farmed Ormsary in Southend in the early 1800s, and this name was also used for a family farm in New Zealand.

Robert (Bob) Jardine, born in 1851, was a twin of my great-great-grandfather, Sandy, being the first of the family to be born at Southend. In May 1875, Robert sailed on the Christian McAusland of Greenock, a three-masted sailing ship, built in 1869 and specifically fitted out for the conveyance of passengers to New Zealand. It took Robert, who was described on the manifesto as a single man and ploughman from Argyll, three months to arrive there. The price of the passage per adult was £14 10s and Robert sailed out on an assisted passage. On arrival at Bluff, there was much concern about the amount of illness - which included typhoid, scarletina, and whooping cough among the immigrants on this particular voyage. The Board of Health met the next day and decided the immigrants should be landed on the Quarantine Island as soon as the barracks were ready, with the sick being separated in the usual manner. Robert married Martha Fraser Clark in 1894 and they had six of a family.

Andrew's youngest child was James Stewart Ronald. I imagine the Stewart middle name was after his mother's maternal grandmother, Ann Stewart. He took up employment as an engineer with the P & O line. In 1896 it was reported in a local newspaper, The Argyllshire Herald, that James Ronald of Singapore had sent a handsome cup - an emu egg mounted in silver - for members of Dunaverty Golf Course. Members had to compete on the last Saturday of each month for a year, and the cup was to become the property of the member with the best eight aggregate scores. Alas, I can find no record of who won it. James died aged 47 in 1903, after developing gangrene in his leg, following an accident on the ship. He was buried in Freemantle, Australia.

Only two of Andrew's children remained in Kintyre. 'Yaddie', as his son Andrew was called, was born about 1845 in Glasgow. He sailed to New Zealand in June 1865 but returned to Kintyre in November. I don't know if he intended to emigrate and changed his mind or was out on a visit. Subsequently, however, in 1871, he took up the tenancy of Dalmore Farm, Southend. Andrew loved the game of golf and on a good day would leave his farm work to play at Dunaverty. He always wore a frock coat and a half-tile hat which was a cross between a bowler and a tile hat. A big, tall man with a wee beard, he would always carry his pencil golf-bag under his oxter. His swing was famed down this way, being a kind of loop. The story goes that his ball was always landing in the whins near the 5th shoreline and he hated them with a passion. On becoming the greens convener of Dunaverty, he gave instructions that the whins were to be rooted out, so having his revenge on them. His name lives on, as the 5th hole is named 'Dalmore'. Andrew was also a curler, playing for the country team when the lochs were frozen over. A fine ploughman, he won prizes at the local ploughing matches, as did his son and grandson.

Finally, the other son who remained in Kintyre was my great-grandfather, Alexander, better known as 'Sandy', who took over the next 19-year lease of Pennysaeroch Farm. Conditions of the lease included: 'The tenant shall reside constantly on the farm and have it at all times properly and sufficiently stocked. To labour, cultivate and manure the arable lands according to the rules of good husbandry'. He had to pay a rent of £140 per annum by six-monthly installments, at Whitsunday and Martinmas. Sandy married Janet Andrew, daughter of David Andrew. David, on retiring from farming Knockstaple, built Mariefield in Southend village. The dress stone came from Kilkivan Quarry and the remaining stone from Brunerican. Below the foundations are said to be a bottle of whisky, silver coins and the names of the family. Apparently, Sandy was offered the chance to buy Pennysaeroch for £700, but as he was a staunch Liberal and it was against the Liberal policy that one should own land, he turned down the offer. He also won ploughing medals, two of which are in my father's possession.

Finally, Andrew Ronald, my great-great-grandfather, died aged 89 on 27 August 1898, the same day as his grandson Robert was born. The late Mary Stevenson of New Zealand recorded that Andrew, not long before he died, had said that he hoped his funeral day would be wet (and it was extremely wet), and that he didn't want the farm work to be held up, and that he wanted the horses to hurry to the cemetery - they bolted! Andrew is buried with his second wife, Anne.

I feel Andrew must have been quite a character. Widowed three times, he then sailed round the world visiting his family in Canada and New Zealand, got his portrait painted in oils and brought home a stewardess and possible fourth wife. He is the ancestor of all Ronalds living in Kintyre and of numerous offspring all over the world.

Rogue Money

This list was among the material presented by Murdo MacDonald, retired Archivist, Argyll & Bute Council, at his talk to the Society on 'The Policing of Kintyre',. on Wed 1 December, 2004. 'Rogue money' was a fund raised by the Commissioners of Supply of Argyllshire, and employed, until c. 1840, in bringing criminals to justice. Editor.

  • 10 June 1828. Paid Andrew Williamson, Constable, for apprehending Archibald Carmichael, Barr, and bringing him for examination. £2 0s 6d.
  • 7 November 1829. Paid Malcolm MacPhee, Constable, Carradale, for searching for, apprehending and bringing prisoner to Campbeltown, Archibald Blair, accused of assault. £3 2s.
  • 1 March 1830. Paid Alexander MacDougall, Constable, Campbeltown, for apprehending Duncan and Alexander Blue, Barr, accused of assault. £4 7s 1d.
  • 29 April 1833. Paid Alexander MacDougall, Sheriff Officer, for apprehending Colin MacNeill and others in Gigha, accused of stealing the rigging of a stranded vessel. £10 2s.
  • 29 April 1833. Paid Alexander MacDougall [above] for apprehending Neill Bell, accused of killing a cow in the byre of the Minister of Killean. £1 11s.
  • 13 May 1833. Paid Michael Campbell, Constable, for summoning witnesses and their expenses in the case of Neill Bell [above]. £2 6s.
  • 13 May 1833. Paid John MacIntyre, Surgeon, for visiting Neill Stalker, Clachan, who was assaulted by Charles MacAlister. £4 4s.
  • 16 May 1833. Paid Michael Campbell, Sheriff Officer, for citing Neill and John MacQuilkan, Beachmore, accused of assault, to stand trial, and expense of witnesses. £3 12s 9d.
  • 8 June 1833. Paid N. MacMurchy, Constable, Whitehouse, for searching for Archibald MacNeill, accused of stabbing Mary MacQuilkan. £2 8s.
  • 8 November 1833. Paid William Gay, Constable, Whitehouse, for expense of apprehending and bringing prisoner to Campbeltown, Charles MacAlister, an outlaw. £9 4s.
  • 24 March 1834. Paid Mr. Alexander Fletcher, Constable, for apprehending Colin MacRae, accused of Profanation of the Sabbath and window-breaking. £4 2s.
  • 29 March 1834. Paid Alexander Marshall, Dalintober, for the damage done to his house by a mob after the polling in Campbeltown on the election of an M.P. 14s 9d.
  • 9 September 1834. Paid William Gay, Constable, Whitehouse, for searching and watching for MacNeill and McGeachy, outlaws. 10s.

Take Two

CAMPBELTOWN JURY COURT. Archibald McCoig, labourer residing at Dunglass, in the parish of Southend, was accused of culpable homicide, or assault in so far as, on 20th November last, the panel did, on the Southend road, and near the public house at Stewarton, wickedly attack the now deceased Michael Flynn, farmservant at Dunglass, and did, with his fists, and with a stick, strike the said Michael Flynn several blows, and threw him down upon the ground, and otherwise so maltreated and abused him, by all of which two of his ribs were broken, and he was mortally injured, and languished until the 22nd December following, when he died. The libel contained an alternative charge of assault, founded on the above narrative. Panel pleaded not guilty, and the case went to proof; after hearing which, and a careful summary of it, and of the law of the case, from the Sheriff, they returned a verdict, finding by a plurality of voices, the prisoner guilty of assault, when he was fined 20s, or 20 days imprisonment. Campbeltown Journal, 19/2/1852

BURGH POLICE COURT (Before Bailie Dickson) 4th. William Mathieson, son of Duncan Mathieson, fisherman, Kirk Street, pled guilty to the theft of hen eggs from John Lorne Stewart, Esq., of ColI, and was sentenced to 7 days' imprisonment. Argyllshire Herald, 7/8/1869.

PROLIFIC PIG. On Wednesday last a pig belonging to a woman in Dalintober dropped 21 pigs. The litter is doing well. Ibid, 16/6/1866

RED SANDSTONE. Mr. Martin, civil engineer, while on a professional visit to this town connected with the quay improvements, was, we understand, astonished at the superiority of the above kind of stone, which is being used there, and which is deemed as good as any in Scotland. A block of it was taken to Glasgow by Mr. Martin. The quarry out of which it was taken is at Kildalloig. Campbeltown Journal, 15/1/1852.

Copyright belongs to the authors unless otherwise stated.

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